The first striking detail about The Mad Dalton’s new EP is the title: Antioxidant. With well-crafted melodies and stirring production, this release is a refreshing collection of songs for the times we’re living in. That’s not to say, however, that these are optimistic songs. Opener, Timebomb, which features voice samples of American whistle-blower Edward Snowden and a brief chant of ‘black lives matter’ in the accompanying music video, is a brooding lament on political and racial division. It builds from a gentle acoustic riff into a hypnotic cacophony of layers, and the accompanying video for the track adds an extra punch.
The next track, Been Smokin’ Too Long, is a cover of Nick Drake, but is much heavier than the original and one wonders if the smoke in question is from the rising fire within Peter Sumadh, the Belfast-based singer-songwriter behind The Mad Dalton moniker. Yet to consider Sumadh as a mere singer-songwriter would be a disservice as the tracks on Antioxidant are an eclectic combination of styles, sounds and rhythms. Skeleton Waltz is an accordion-led stomper backed by a brass section and fast-paced lyrics, whereas Something Clear is a shimmering summery anthem with a hint of nineties nostalgia.
The EP is rounded off with a remix of Timebomb by Heliopause who show why they are renounced for their epic electronic soundscapes. Yet, if you were to strip Antioxidant back to its core, you’d find a collection of interesting, thought-provoking and cleverly-arranged songs. It is then the added musicianship and stunning production that elevate this to one of the standout EP’s of the year.
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