Little Green Cars didn’t wait long to trade in when their engine gave out once and for all. Frontman Stevie Appleby has hit the road on his own, while Faye O’Rourke, Adam O’Regan, Donagh Seaver O’Leary and Dylan Lynch have re-emerged from the garage as Soda Blonde—a much slicker vehicle with a sound that wouldn’t be too out of place in a Nicolas Winding Refn flick.
Starting out the gates with their incandescent debut single ‘Swimming Through the Night’, the group appeared to go from strength to strength with each follow-up release, from the synth-pop infused ‘In the Heat of the Night’, to the anthemic, guitar driven ‘Holy Roses’. All the early signs pointed towards the brand new model being an even more promising one than the prototype.
Small Talk sees Soda Blonde well and truly rise to the occasion. A mature, measured listen, the album owes its success to the delivery of that early promise, along with its production, measured songwriting, and arrangements. At every turn, the album is sprinkled with all kinds of ear candy, from the lush string swells of opening track ‘Tiny Darkness’ to the sophisticated pop of ‘Terrible Hands’.
While the collective’s instrumental prowess is no doubt astounding, the power of frontwoman Faye O’Rourke’s lyricism cannot be overstated. On songs like ‘Try’, ‘I Still Have Feelings for You’ and the title track, topics such as fractured relationships, self-identity, substance abuse and coming-of-age are all broached with raw vulnerability and unflinching honesty, but with the wisdom you’d expect from performers who have been on the go as long as these young veterans have been.
‘In the Heat of the Night’ sees relationship struggles navigated with intriguing couplets like “I’ll be the north, you be south, you pulled me in as you went out”, while on album highlight ‘Love Me World’, O’Rourke pulls no punches in her quest for validation and adoration:
“from my family and friends and even you my darling’s not enough.”
As far as stories so far go, Small Talk is about as comprehensive and honest as it gets. Comfortable in their style and unfazed by the pressure of such early promise, Soda Blonde have made the album they truly wanted to. An album of its time in terms of its lyrical bent, but timeless due to its sound, drawing from old inspirations but presenting them in a new way. It’s a fantastic record.