2020 has been an eventful year, to say the least. It’s a wonder that these past four months or so haven’t sent us all over the edge, especially in this era of the angsty-est of angsty teens. Personally, my quarantine experience has already seen many a butchered hairdo (nothing like a hearty spontaneous hair color change), a sudden dive into ‘experimental’ baking (don’t ask), and a failed attempt to read the entire Game of Thrones series (I won’t even tell you how far I got). If anything, the only thing I’ve learned is how bad I am at coping. Luckily, there’s other people out there who seem to be doing a much better job.
Irish indie group Rowan released “Big Wave” as their response to the madness of 2020, a breezy song that offers a hand to anyone who needs it. Dylan Howe (vocals), Fionn Hennessy-Hayes (drums) and Kevin Herron (guitar) use indie rock beats and vocals with bouncing basslines that mingle to deliver an invigorating and very welcome sound that offers comfort during tough times.
Opening with a whoop, “Big Wave” gets off to the races right away, driven by a peppy rhythm and an immediately memorable hook. Howe’s rich vocals layer seamlessly over the band as he enters the song. At first, he sings the same note over and over again, a repeated line so snugly harmonized by the guitars and propelled by the drums that it’s sure to put a smile on your face. The melody is so warm and inviting that you might not realize that Howe’s listing off some seriously intense issues (“More guns shoot young teens” is just one example). But this contrast works perfectly, with the spirited music and assured vocal delivery creating a clear sense of comfort.
“My my, these times / They get me down,” Howe continues, but he doesn’t wallow for long. “Oh my, sweet dear / Just wait here, oh wait here / For another sweet dream.” The instrumentation and melody shift along with the lyrical tones as Howe consoles the listener. It’s clear that, like Howe, Rowan doesn’t want you to wallow. Sure, this world is crazy and far from perfect, but we’re reminded to take just a moment to forget about it. This song isn’t necessarily about offering solutions, but rather about providing comfort and helping us cope. Yes, angsty teens will continue to be angsty teens, especially when the world only seems to grow more and more overwhelming; Rowan tells us that it’s all going to be okay, even when everything seems to be falling apart.
“Big Wave” is a song that truly sparkles. Each member of Rowan has their own time to shine in the song (including a great bass solo!), but it’s their masterful blending of sound and deft lyricism that make this song stand out as a clear bright point during these somewhat bleak times.