Most indie rock sounds the same. Five or six twenty-somethings from California or Brooklyn or an off-the-map corner of a fly-over state eventually run out of problems to sing about. There are only so many dreamy guitar pedals to choose from, and reverb can’t be turned up past 10. Somehow, Somebody’s Child sounds authentic.
All the pieces are there. Simple, filtered guitar riffs and fun bass lines bring the songs their energy while stripped-down drums keep time in the background. On his debut, self-titled album that will be released on Feb. 3, Somebody’s Child—the stage name for singer-songwriter Cian Godfrey—delivers often melancholy lyrics about personal struggles and lost love, while keeping songs upbeat. This is all well-documented in nearly every indie rock group that’s ever recorded an album. Somebody’s Child’s appeal is derived elsewhere.
Perhaps it’s Godfrey’s unusual background. The singer-songwriter grew up in Paris where he was first exposed to music as a pianist. He later returned to his home city of Dublin to attend music school and launch Somebody’s Child. Part of Godfrey’s appeal stems from the pride he displays for his Irish nationality in his songs. It is referenced several times throughout the album and provides novelty as there are only a handful of established Irish musical acts. He looks to present a vision of a new, more progressive Ireland through his music.
Another facet of the artist’s uniqueness can be chalked up to his diverse influences. The album draws on sounds from across all rock subgenres and eras from punk to dream pop.
Godfrey showcases a diverse range of sounds and styles across the album’s 11 tracks. No two songs sound the same, though some have similar energies. With the album jumping from up-beat, headbanging anthems of youth and individuality to deep ballads of longing, it is hard to point at one style as characteristically Godfrey. Instead, he creates many musical identities for himself.
The album’s most engaging songs are “You Know What” and “Sell Out.” Both are supported by loud guitars and drums, each crescendoing from verse to chorus. “Sell Out” stands out as one of the project’s all-around highlights, with themes of staying true to oneself coming across despite the song’s almost overpowering energy.
The following track, “Broken Record,” features a similar energy propped up by songwriting and instrumentals rather than noise and tempo. It feels—at times—like a Bruce Springsteen track. Godfrey sings over booming guitars about the tension between his resistance to change and desire for self-actualization, resulting in a standout bursting with emotion.
After establishing his ability to captivate a restless audience with uptempo melodies and loud noise, Godfrey shifts toward a more laid-back sound on “Hold Me Like You Wanna.” It’s not slow, but Godfrey takes his time to describe wanting to make the most of an uncertain relationship. The instrumentals are just as interesting as the lyrics. A guitar plays meandering melodies through the verses, while another keeps tempo with a basic, repeating riff. A synth adds complexity to the background, and a simple yet varying drum track ties everything together. Stripped of Godfrey’s vocals, it would sound almost like a Cure song.
Godfrey dives deeper into his more emotional sound on the album’s last few tracks. “What I Said” and “Stay” stand out in particular for their emotional and sonic depth, with the former shining as one of the project’s best songs.
Though the sounds of his predecessors and influences come through in his music, Godfrey succeeds in establishing a unique sound. Somebody’s Child shines across the board, with each song contributing toward the album’s complete feel. There isn’t a bad or boring moment, and even the few skippable tracks are worthy of at least a second listen.
Somebody’s Child is everything a debut album should be. It is fun, unique, and leaves the listener wanting more. It is well polished, and Godfrey’s work developing and perfecting a unique sound comes across in every song.
Right now, Somebody’s Child is just an artist from Ireland playing opening gigs for larger acts and lurking in the small print of festivals. If Somebody’s Child is any indication of what’s to come, this will soon change. Indie rock has a new force to be reckoned with. All it will take is Godfrey getting his music into the public sphere.