New Found Way, the newest single by Static Union, offers a level of self-reflection and sentimentality you are unlikely to see on any other record coming out of Scotland this year, all the while providing a rich and upbeat musical tapestry as its backdrop.
At only 21, but by this point a venerable veteran of the songwriting game, Sean McGarvey mans the helm of the Glasgow alt-rock outfit and spills some of his most poignant and direct lyrics to date on the band’s latest record.
New Found Way tells a pointedly honest account of incredible self doubt, feelings of personal stagnation, and the bitter nostalgia that follows the end of a relationship. McGarvey’s introspection on the track ponders on questions of self-esteem, regret, and on the failings of self-reliance.
“How can I come so far and still feel so low?”, McGarvey asks in the chorus of the song. “I’m half the man I was in your arms”. Sounding defeated and painfully honest, Sean’s carefully crafted lyrics are a testament to a new kind of songwriting.
Produced by Paul McInally at 45 A-Side studios in Bridgeton in the heart of Glasgow’s East End, the influences of recording sessions into the early hours of the morning are keenly felt in the delicate vocal delivery throughout the song.
“Sometimes we would still be doing vocals at about 2 in the morning”, McGarvey told me. “At that time you’d have the help of a couple of glasses of wine to help with getting all of those emotions across.”
Coming in just shy of three and a half minutes in total, ‘New Found Way’ falls short of some of the band’s earlier material in terms of sheer runtime, but more than makes up for it in the depth of sounds and instrumentation that run throughout the song.
The bulk of the instrumental fabric that provides such a luxurious musical texture to the track comes from the band’s lead guitarist and keyboard player, James Harker. The delicate arpeggiated picking on the lead guitar that makes sporadic appearances throughout the verses of the song floats effortlessly from chord to chord – and provides a perfect counterpoint to the driven force of the rhythm section.
Coupled with a driven rhythm courtesy of the drums and bass guitar of Cameron Angus and Liam Adams, the frequent stabs of synthesiser in the powerful choruses of the song harken back to records such as The War On Drugs’ 2014 single, Red Eyes, that have undoubtedly influenced the band.
Perhaps the most blatant influence of Harker’s on the track is the guitar solo that plays the song out. Carefully considered, and incredibly powerful in its simplicity, Harker’s guitar work as the song fades out exemplifies everything that makes this track great.
In its entirety, ‘New Found Way’ proves to be a triumph in modern Scottish songwriting – a step away from the self-aggrandising and egotistical elements that that are too easily lent to the modern pop song, in favour of a more reserved and honest performance that is rarely seen in today’s alternative rock scene, and should be celebrated as such.
Static Union play a headline show at Glasgow’s esteemed King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on the 13th of January as part of their New Year’s Revolution concert series. For lovers of expansive alt-rock sounds and lively crowds, this is not one to miss. Tickets can be purchased HERE.