New Pope
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New Pope

Gaillimh, Connaught, Ireland | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Gaillimh, Connaught, Ireland | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Folk Pop




"New Pope - Love"

Galway’s New Pope AKA David Boland, hasn’t been around long, but he doesn’t waste any time. Released with little fanfare on New Year’s Eve – evidently caring not for making his way into any album of the year lists – his second album Love comes along just a year after his debut Youth. Much like the debut – an album steeped in childhood nostalgia – the single word title again serves as a theme for the album’s lyrical content, the word ‘love’ appearing in the titles of three of the seven tracks alone, and being at the heart of all the others. The opening title track sets out his stall immediately, with its refrain of “I’m still learning a lot about love” set to acoustic guitar, organ and spare cymbal splashes. The music us just as low key as the release method, just barely fleshing out his folk songs with dream pop touches and layered vocals, combined with artwork that might falsely suggest an 80s synth-pop record within.

‘The Claddagh’, already released as a music video a few months ago, is the album’s undoubted highlight, coupling Boland’s melodic melancholy with some expert storytelling. In his own words: “The song is about falling for someone in the Roisin Dubh and being unable to find the party they have gone to, resulting in much anguish. I tried to capture the kind of heartbreak one feels when you’re fully sure you’ve met ‘the one’ and lost them in the space of a couple of hours”. The track achieves this in just three verses through use of minute details like “I wrote your number on the back of my hand/But it was raining, I couldn’t read it”, recounted through his tuneful yet defeated delivery.

Elsewhere, ‘Boys Can Be So Cruel’ sees Boland reflect on past relationship wrongs as both victim and perpetrator, and the numbing effect that can result – “I’ve been cheated on/I’ve cheated on more than one occasion/But these days guilt don’t weight that much/The guilt comes when you’re caught” – before the realisation that things will be different this time. The almost ten minute closer ‘The Heart of it All’ again sees him in storytelling mode – “I came about in a strange old house/Nails painted, passed out on the couch/And I went down the road to hail a taxi/Stopped for a Kopparberg at the offie” – as he seemingly hits the bottle to forget, and there’s a startling contrast of emotion between the lines “I guess I’m alive/Thank God I’m alive”. These longer tracks don’t feel anywhere near as lengthy as their duration as they’re propelled along leisurely by repetition and gentle percussion in the mould of Low, drifting by in a pleasant haze.

Love proves that the success of Youth was no one-off, and if anything, Boland’s songcraft has improved in the year between the two, tackling the subject of relationships with emotion on his sleeve and languor in his voice. What theme he opts for next remains to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t be tackled with a similar level of mastery as on display here. Cathal McBride - The Thin Air

"New Pope - Love"

On New Pope's sophomore album, Love, we are treated to some very proficient alternative-folk with Americana roots from the Galway musician. The album's title-track could easily have appeared on the OST for Wes Anderson's 1998 classic Rushmore, like a song plucked from an era that has gone before. The lyrics are also suitably wry; "I don't care about, the Middle-East, I don't care about, inequality, I don't care about, refugees, I don't care about the Russians or the Chinese, I don't care about these laws that make no sense, I don't care about poor health and rising rents, all I care about...."

'In Between' gives us a different type of mellow, shimmering electric guitar, and a very lo-fi escapist mood, like a mix of Kings of Convenience and early Band of Horses, it's so sleepy and calm that you have no choice but to just drift off on a bed of bending guitar notes. On 'The Claddagh' (above video), we drop deeper into New Pope's comatose state, delicate percussion to the point of being almost inaudible, underscores this mood and ably sums up his intentions for the listener on Love.

Stephen Connolly's organ playing on 'Old Love Song' is absolutely delightful, as the tempo increases, it gives a real old world and retro feel to the track, it's like a Nouvelle Vague version of a Joy Division song, with the rippling bass and pointed drumming. After the once again comforting sounds of 'Lost Love', New Pope goes very stripped down and raw in all of the best ways on 'Boys Can Be So Cruel', it has that bedroom dream pop vibe down to a T.

Closing with 'The Heart of It All' David Boland finishes as he began, meandering and deconstructed wandering through a hazy fuzz of filtered vox and an all-encompassing sound of cymbals. I quite like the way in which both of New Pope's albums to date are seven tracks long, it is more than sufficient for him to display and share his sound, and with a total track length of just under 45 minutes, the condensed nature of the songs across the album works better than if they had been shorter and greater in number. His forthcoming album, Home, will be of interest, and it is hoped that he will expand his sound even further on album number three. - The Best of Music and Film

"New Pope - Love"

The earnest love song, once the bedrock of pop, is hard to come by these days. People tend to beat around the bush or couch their sentiments in devices such as irony or allusion. Not so in New Pope’s aptly titled new album, Love.

The work of Galway, Ireland–based David Boland, the sophomore album lays the heart of its artist bare. Out of the seven songs that range from pure folk to the hazier realm of dream pop, all but two contain the word "love" at least once, and even the others, "In Between" and "The Claddagh," tell stories of love and love lost. All of that sentimentality might get syrupy or heavy-handed if Boland didn’t possess such a strong sense for songwriting.

Though the feelings in Love are grand, the artist communicates them in straightforward lyrics and graceful melodies and phrasings. On "In Between," the densely fuzzy second track, the words, "I got drunk on the fumes off your breath as you slept" begin a track-long metaphor that successfully conveys the madness of the narrator’s love for his subject. On "The Claddagh," "I wrote your number on the back of my hand / But it was raining, I couldn't read it," shows a small but cinematic moment of regret in a song that has a sad, dreamy feel.

In "Boys Can Be So Cruel," Boland tells a clear story through a reveal in the third verse: "But this love right here, this love is pure / And I know this for sure / You're further from a heartbreaker / Than the sun from the shore." Keeping his lyrics grounded concrete narratives and imagery, New Pope writes love songs that are more gritty than saccharine.

The artist emphasizes this raw emotion with smart production choices. Most of Love is lo-fi, but Boland finds a large range within that spectrum. "Love," the most earnest thesis on his subject, is folky and unadorned; "In Between," with its drunk love, overwhelms the vocals with dizzying instrumentals; "Old Love Song," which compares a relationship to the object of its title, mirrors that comparison with a "Crocodile Rock" synth and old-timey bass line; and "Lost Love," warm and murky, marches slowly and dirge-like.

Occasionally, though, the lo-fi production overwhelms an otherwise clear album. The percussion throughout Love is bleary and indistinct, an effect that functions well in most places but sometimes leads the music off track—in "In Between" and "Lost Love," for example. Despite its muddy moments, though, the album gets its point across. Overall, New Pope has created a clean and deliberate collection of love songs that is as striking as it is sincere. - Thrd Coast

"New Pope - Youth"

Tapping into the profound and altogether ineffable world of the most powerful of Eternal returns: home, tracing the years back to their source and what it means to belong, Youth by Galway dream-folk artist David Boland AKA New Pope is a seven-track, debut full-length chronicle of youthful reminiscence perfectly balanced between the tender and more pining realms of nostalgia.

Released at a perfect time of year, when many of us return home, gradually taking stock of another year just gone, the album – evoking the likes of Red House Painters and American Music Club – offers up a wonderfully re-assuring, immaculately crafted summation of the inner, intersubjective workings of dealing with change and growing up whilst resting easily in the knowledge that, at the root of it all, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. - The Thin Air

"New Pope - Youth"

New Pope is the latest musical project from Galway’s David Boland who’s distinctive vocals you might recognise from his previous incarnation as a member of The Depravations.

The album might be short on tracks (only 7 in total) however Boland has packed it full of dreamy elegantly crafted new folk tunes that are layered with a sense of longing and nostalgia. That’s not to say this isn’t an uplifting album, in fact it beautifully washes over you in what is almost a cleansing musical experience that you immediately want to delight in again and again.

Listening to “Youth” recollections of Fleet Foxes and American Music Club jump out at you as each song is built around a combination of jangly acoustic guitar, subtle notes of lead guitar and gorgeous harmonies. Even though the formula doesn’t alter much throughout the album it never feels one note and even on the 11 minute opus that is “North Donegal” you never feel that it’s overstayed it’s welcome at any point.

Actually the closing track sums up my feelings on “Youth” perfectly as it certainly will be “Not Forgotten” as its beautiful melodies will keep swimming around my head for some time to come. - Ceol Caint

"New Pope - Youth"

While many, ourselves included, are taking a musical look back at the moment, there’s still new releases to enjoy. One such is Youth, the debut album from Galway’s New Pope. Available for free download up until Christmas Day, you should certainly take the opportunity to treat yourself to a record that is a subtle gem with hints of dark American folk. Listen to it below, then get a copy. - State

"New Pope - Youth"

Outsider music seems to be what New Pope is dealing with throughout ‘YOUTH LP’. Otherwise known as David Boland, the themes, lyrics and musical leanings of the Galway-based musician’s latest release bring to mind certain songsmiths from the other side of the Atlantic – David Berman, Kurt Wagner, John Darnielle; peddlers of wry, introspective material.
Boland’s early musing that “I feel an affinity with anyone on the periphery” speaks volumes as he takes us through his past transgressions to alcohol-aided catharsis, and indeed the welcome oblivion it brings when too much comes to bear (“The only escape from this ship is sleep/The only sleep to be had is through drink”).
The welcoming thrum of accordion and synth – the breathing undercurrent of Boland’s compositions – gives life to Onwards, Westwards; that enveloping warmth belying a dystopian outlook, “Out of the city, the disarray/ Endless smoke, endless grey /Sombre, pallid sorrow/Streetlamps acid yellow.” A constant hiss of a cymbal, and guitar notes that bend and meander, take We Were Young woozily towards its tragic-comic finale (“I thought I knew you well/ You were just waiting on somebody else”), while the folky picked acoustic Christopher lifts the mood somewhat. As Boland sings “Of love I have nought/ Except trouble and sad thought,” you might almost feel sorry for him, if the sentiment wasn’t couched in such aesthetically pleasing hyperbolic language, tongue almost certainly firmly in cheek.
Childhood memories abound in Amsterdam – a place called home; a girl called Summer; the enigmatic, yet inherently tragic sign-off of “oh what’s worse is the silence that happened then.” The opening line is golden (“Amsterdam you humid bastard/ All my clothes are soaked”) and that simple personification of Amsterdam typifies the humour inherent in all Boland’s compositions, no matter where his subject matter falls on the melancholic scale, from pained, full-blooded memory through fanciful reminiscence.
A languorous doo-wop lilt is buoyed by the band’s soft accompaniment on All My Life, no one instrument taking precedent over another, and Boland’s initial mention of “sweet adolescence” soon morphs into a more stoic take on his past – “But if I could turn back time/ And start again/ Well I wouldn’t change a thing/ My mistakes they brought me where I’ve been.” North Donegal unfolds over eleven unhurried minutes – a more ambitious, tripartite track taking in starry-eyed seasons, deception and substances, and a downbeat coda of admission of regret.
‘YOUTH LP’ is weighted with memories, the draw of the past a tangible thing; rose-tinted and tender, yet at other times more difficult to relive. Boland, though, seems as content to revel in – or at least confront – the darker interludes as much as those blissful memories. It’s a device akin to that in Bergman’s Wild Strawberries – a film this collection can’t help but conjure in the mind – as Boland recalls pivotal moments in his life with both ennui and joy. The real joy is ours though. It can’t be right to take this much pleasure in someone’s spilled guts, can it? - GoldenPlec

"New Pope - Youth"

Contemplative, reflective, gentle, forgiving, lush, ambient, folky, dreampoppy, insert adjective here! Whatever this is, it’s good……… really good. Echoing the voices of its predecessors: Bert Jansch, Neutral Milk Hotel and even a spot of Arlo Guthrie, New pope is a band I have experience with, having seen them live at a time when there was a stripped down lineup of classical guitar and accordian in terms of instrumentation. They’ve upped their game and added an aul setta drums, a wee bass geetar and a nice swirling, echoing electric guitar (which is one half of the reason why this album is justifyibly on a shoegaze website, the other being the spacious vocals). New Pope is the moniker of David Boland, a Galway based songwriter dealing in melodic dream pop and sometimes folk. Live, he is joined by Colm Bohan on drums and Stephen Connolly on organ and guitar. This album is a friend to your ears. Lyrically pensive, restrained and thoughtful; anthropomorphically speaking, this album sounds like a mothers love!

Im not going to go describing this thing track for track because it is on the internet for you to listen to for yourself. I am however going to highlight the tracks that might get you hooked faster than if I didn’t, like a crack dealer givin you the crack with the most cocaine in it, because the most sing alongable tracks will hit you first. - Primal Music


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Not merely one of our favourite Irish songsmiths at the minute, but quite clearly one of the very best – the most astute and consistently captivating – singer-songwriters around. This is beautiful, vital stuff." (The Thin Air, 2017)

New Pope is a songwriter dealing in melodic indie dream pop and sometimes folk.

In the past year New Pope has played Electric Picnic, Whelan's Ones To Watch and Hard Working Class Heroes, collaborated with acclaimed English author Tony White for the TULCA Festival of Visual Arts and has been featured on BBC's Across The Line and RTE Radio 1's Inside Culture.

Onstage he is joined by Colm Bohan on percussion and Stephen Connolly on organ and guitar.

Released in December 2015, New Pope’s debut album YOUTH was named number 13 in the Reader's Best Irish Albums of 2015, number 23 in The Thin Air’s Irish releases of the year and Release of the Week in The Irish Times.

Onwards, Westwards - the opening track from YOUTH - featured on the soundtrack to American indie summer flick Baked In Brooklyn (2016) starring Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) & Alexandra Daddario (True Detective).

New Pope's second album LOVE was released on December 31st 2016 and named The Irish Times Album of The Week.

A third album, called HOME, is planned for the summer of 2017.


LOVE (2016)

YOUTH (2015)

Band Members