On March 21, 2019, Irish indie rock band Little Green Cars announced that they were disbanding. As per the band’s own statement, it was amicable:
“no terrible calamity, no heartless betrayal and no punches thrown”.
The band’s albums—2013’s Absolute Zero and 2016’s Ephemera—brought significant critical acclaim and commercial success. Little Green Cars headlined shows at Vicar Street, Cork Opera House, Iveagh Gardens and more.
Within a few months, we learned that the band had regrouped as Soda Blonde. This came as just as much of a surprise as the breakup announcement. Unsigned, unmanaged, unaccompanied by frontman Stevie Appleby, the band (Faye O’Rourke – vocals, Adam O’Regan – guitar, Donagh Seaver O’Leary – bass and Dylan Lynch – drums) completely hit the reset button. In the process, walking away from a loyal, growing fanbase—not only in Ireland, but in the United States and beyond.
So, what’s different? Well, on debut EP Terrible Hands, Soda Blonde play to the songwriting strengths of Faye O’Rourke. Gone are the folk-infused elements of the band’s sound. Instead, in their place, is a smooth, sophisticated pop sensibility. O’Rourke’s powerful vocal has always been the band’s ace in the hole, and she really shines above all else here. Crystalline synths, keys, and danceable beats replace acoustic guitars, calling to mind Robyn’s self-titled record, and Moon Safari-era Air. What remains is the band’s keen ear for vocal harmonies and infectious melodies.
O’Rourke flexes her lyrical muscle with songs about defiance and perseverance in the face of adversity, on both the title track and ‘Don’t Mind Them’. Meanwhile, her yearning performance on the airy ‘Perfume’ serves as the EP’s clear highlight. Finally, closer ‘The New Lover’s Dance’ is as close as you can get to Tango in the Night-era Fleetwood Mac without having Christine McVie in your band.
Bright, touching, and impeccably arranged, Terrible Hands shows that sometimes hitting the reset button is for the best.