Soda Blonde’s stunning debut EP ‘Terrible Hands’ is a deep breath of fresh air – a collection of beautiful alt-pop full of depth, passion, and intent. Get to know this artist-to-watch!
Stream: ‘Terrible Hands’ EP – Soda Blonde
It’s sonically vibrant, and lyrically it bares a lot of emotional weight. These two components are what define the kind of music we are making.
If I could choose one band that I knew was headed for stardom, it would be Soda Blonde. The Irish quartet, formed following the dissolution of the critically acclaimed Little Green Cars (which had been led by Stevie Appleby), have already proven themselves to be an outstanding band full of passion, talent, and depth.
Their debut single “Swimming Through the Night” stunned us last June, with lead singer Faye O’Rourke crooning a sweet, poignant elegy, seemingly to her ex-Little Green Cars companion, alongside her longtime LGC bandmates Dylan Lynch, Donagh Seaver O’Leary, and Adam O’Regan.
And while “Swimming Through the Night” may have felt directly related to Soda Blonde’s past, from the start their music has stood out on its own merit and accord, with O’Rourke’s songwriting shining like a beacon of hope on a dark, lonely night. “The four of us knew we still had music to make,” O’Rourke says matter-of-factly.
And just like that, a legend is born.
Soda Blonde’s four-track debut EP Terrible Hands is a deep breath of fresh air – a collection of beautiful indie/alt-pop songs full of passion and intent.
Released in November, the four-track record is an enviable introduction, showcasing the very best of what Soda Blonde have to offer.
Lead single and opener “Terrible Hands” radiates with tense emotion as O’Rourke describes a faulty relationship, eventually exploding into a dazzling and instantly memorable chorus.
You stay out all night
I know cash is king
Why my surprise I just don’t know
You never ever get me home
You call her my name
Christening my jealousy
Fumble the edges of this skin
I guess I thought it was our thing
And your hearts in mine but you tell me all the time
I’m in terrible terrible terrible hands
Oh I’m in terrible terrible terrible hands
Oh I’m in terrible terrible terrible hands
“Initially I wrote this song for a friend of mine who was stranded in an abusive relationship. It’s about power, co-dependency and compliance,” O’Rourke tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s also a reflection on the relationship between government and commonality, and also the artist and the industry. It explores how you can lose control and feel that you’re beholden to a structure that is ultimately destructive.”
As the title track, “Terrible Hands” also serves not only as Soda Blonde’s musical exemplar, but it’s also a thematic focal point for their EP. “In light of the current times we felt it was a fitting title,” O’Rourke explains. “People in Ireland are beginning to wake up from the inertia. We have an electorate of young people who recognise how fucked the country is and why, that are demanding change. We’ve been in terrible hands for quite some time now.”
This kind of driving ache – or better yet, aching drive – courses through Soda Blonde’s remaining three tracks. “Don’t Mind Them” hurts so good with a message of positivity and not sweating the small stuff; with moody pulse and Fleetwood Mac-esque vocal harmonies, this song’s magnetic allure speaks for itself. “I love that this song is affirmative and upbeat,” O’Rourke notes, referring to its soundscape as “liberating” for the band.
Remember the day
I went to see you and
you had vandalised your place
Was it what that they said about you?
How does it feel to know now
You’ve got no use for the weekends anymore?
Is it what they said about you?
What’s wrong with people?
Let’s leave it behind
Don’t mind them
Don’t mind what they are saying
Don’t mind them
I think that you’re amazing
The more stripped-down “Perfume” once again highlights O’Rourke’s exquisite vocal prowess, finding her emotionally charged and happy to expel her demons. The band’s harmony-laden roots are also on display here, as layers of sweet vocal expression melt together in the pre-chorus and chorus.
I think I understand
Those pinks and blues that
Evening brings unto me
And it’s you that I see;
Never seen a feather
Never seen a feather so bright
I wanna cry
Your limbs longer than mine
Blossoming off a vine
I shake under my skin:
I have invited you in
Never seen an angel
Never seen an angel so bright
I wanna cry
Closing out the record with a moment of heat-of-night intimacy, “The New Lovers Dance” radiates hope and passion within its echo-y piano licks and heavy bass hits. “In short, it’s about being let down,” O’Rourke says. A fitting close, “The New Lovers Dance” pulses with an immediacy and an unrelenting intensity; whether basking in the light, crying in the dark, or brooding in a moment of somber twilit reflection, this band have a way of gently pulling at the heartstrings to not just capture our attention, but instead arrest our senses.
Where was the car that carried you inside it?
Was it the new lover’s dance?
The songs that they recited
I heard the screen it taught you what you wanted
Oh god the danger in there
You don’t know anything
I thought I’d choose
I thought I’d choose
I don’t pass any judgement or discuss it
We have a freak and a child buried down deep inside us
I can’t say anything you’ve done I haven’t
But I don’t see your regret
that just hasn’t happened yet
We have a freak and a child buried down deep inside us…
At least, that’s one interpretation of it. Soda Blonde aren’t the kind of band who are going to spell out their songs for you. They would rather you listen for yourself, and come to your own conclusions about what the music means to you. “Art is for the listener or viewer to take ownership of what’s been created and decipher what they will from it,” per O’Rourke.
Isn’t that how all music should be ingested?
All in all, Soda Blonde’s debut EP makes for a cathartic, emotional, and moving listening experience.
It’s the perfect introduction to a band determined to move forward into the unknown together as one. With such immeasurable talent and powerful music on display, it’s safe to say Soda Blonde have established themselves as a veritable powerhouse and a definitive artist-to-watch over the months and years to come.
Faye O’Rourke recently spoke to Atwood Magazine, diving deep into Soda Blonde’s music, her inspirations, creative independence and ownership, and more. Soda Blonde are in it for the long haul, so remember this moment as the beginning of a brand new era: The start of Soda Blonde.
The most liberating thing is that we’ve done this by ourselves from the ground up in a very raw and autogenous way.
Stream: ‘Terrible Hands’ EP – Soda Blonde
MEET SODA BLONDE
Atwood Magazine: Hey all! First of all, I’d love to know: Where did the name come from? What inspired it?
Soda Blonde: I always thought Frank Oceans ‘Blonde’ was a beautiful title for an album. I’d been listening to that record around the time we were deciding on a name for the band. Soda Blonde looked and sounded good to us. It felt right.
Did you always know you were going to soldier on after Stevie disbanded Little Green Cars?
Soda Blonde: We love Stevie and wish him the best. The four of us knew we still had music to make.
That's touching. What, musically, do you think inspires Soda Blonde and differentiates you, would you say, from Little Green Cars?
Soda Blonde: Well for a start, we’re making pop music. We’ve always listened to an eclectic range of music since we were kids, and that expansive taste is evident throughout the sound and rhythm we create with Soda Blonde. We’re making pop music that we want to hear.
You really took our ears by storm with “Swimming Through the Night”! What inspired this to be your debut single? Why introduce yourselves with this song?
Soda Blonde: Start as you mean to go on. This song is one of our favourite tracks that we’ve made. It’s sonically vibrant, and lyrically it bares a lot of emotional weight. These two components are what define the kind of music we are making.
I was surprised to see “Swimming” not included on your EP. Can you discuss the reason for keeping it separate?
Soda Blonde: We wanted to make a cohesive EP of new material.
That makes sense – I like that idea. I can’t begin tell you how many times I’ve listened to “Terrible Hands. It must be in triple digits. How did this song come about?
Soda Blonde: Thank you! Initially I wrote this song for a friend of mine who was stranded in an abusive relationship. It’s about power, co-dependency and compliance. It’s also a reflection on the relationship between government and commonality, and also the artist and the industry. It explores how you can lose control and feel that you’re beholden to a structure that is ultimately destructive.
And what lends it the authority to also be the title of your EP?
Soda Blonde: In light of the current times we felt it was a fitting title. People in Ireland are beginning to wake up from the inertia. We have an electorate of young people who recognise how fucked the country is and why, that are demanding change. We’ve been in terrible hands for quite some time now.
“I’ll take the bad parts of you over the good of me,” you sing in “Terrible Hands.” This is the line that cuts deep; the idea the song seems to revolve around. Can you discuss this theme, and what about it you find attractive?
Soda Blonde: I’ve always been drawn to write about microcosmic relations and how they reflect something broader in the world. As I previously mentioned this song stemmed from my observation of a relationship that was ultimately destructive to both parties. The acknowledgement that the good of a person is being sacrificed in the wake of routine and a fear of change.
To me, “Terrible Hands” is a particularly compelling start to the EP. What are your favorite moments of the EP, or parts that stand out for you?
Soda Blonde: I think we’re proud of the EP as a whole. The collection of songs gives a clear outline of our intent and what we are capable of sonically and thematically. Being able to play together and write together means everything, and this was a beautiful start for us.
“Don’t Mind Them” heavily reminds of artists like Fleetwood Mac and maybe some ‘80s power-ballads. Can you talk about this song, and what it means to you?
Soda Blonde: I think this was an important track for us because it has a positive message. I tend to traverse the darker sides of my head when writing so I love that this song is affirmative and upbeat. When we went to record this track we placed no restrictions on ourselves in terms of the soundscape we were using. It was a pivotal moment in the production of our sound. It was liberating.
Soda Blonde’s passion for harmony is particularly present in “Perfume.” What inspired you to keep this song acoustic, and how did it come to be?
Soda Blonde: We grew up singing together and harmony is always something that we want to incorporate into our music. It provides a lot of soul and connection. With “Perfume,” we had initially recorded a more fleshed out arrangement with multiple instruments but ultimately we felt the song was at its strongest raw and stripped back. Myself and Adam’s voices are the story tellers here, and there was no need to compete with that sentiment.
Just as you start strong, you end strong with “The New Lovers Dance.” Can you tell me where this song came from?
Soda Blonde: This song was initially a piano ballad I wrote when we were all living together in West Meath. I don’t always feel disclosing what or whom my inspiration comes from is essential. I think it’s good not to colour someone else’s interpretation too much with my own mundane reference but in short, it’s about being let down.
“And I don’t know how I stand you, but I love you and I need to.” It doesn’t get more direct and honest than that. Can you bring me back to where you were when these words hit the page, and what they meant to you then?
Soda Blonde: As I said previously, I don’t think it is always essential to elaborate on the design of the writing. Art is for the listener or viewer to take ownership of what’s been created and decipher what they will from it. It’s a deeply personal song, and I think those lyrics speak for themselves.
I respect that. Overall, this EP is the real introduction to Soda Blonde. What do you think it says about you as a band?
Soda Blonde: I think our work shows that we have a real love for what we are creating and a love for each other. We’ve been able to stand back from certain imperatives in the industry with this project, and see them for what they really are. The most liberating thing is that we’ve done this by ourselves from the ground up in a very raw and autogenous way. We’ve created an image and sound for ourselves on our own terms and I think our EP shows that. It shows that we’re not afraid to do what we want.
How is your experience “starting over” as a band different now than it was when Little Green Cars came around?
Soda Blonde: The industry has undergone massive change since we began as kids in 2008, in saying that we’re still making music in the same way as we always did. We always recorded our music ourselves and we always derived the most pleasure from playing our music live together. Whats changed is our confidence and ability. When we started this band we had 10 years experience of the past. We had a very clear vision for what we wanted to do, which was ultimately just to continue making music in whatever capacity we could.
Similarly, how does your knowledge of recording and writing together inform how you “introduce” yourselves now, as compared to how you might have without prior experience?
Soda Blonde: I think what we’ve learned over the past decade is essential to what we’re doing now. It’s also an essential part of our story and what makes us the band we are. In saying that, this is a completely new project and it was important for us to introduce ourselves boldly and showcase the direction the music is going in. We’ve self-produced every aspect, and our writing and recording experience was essential to that.
We’ve self-produced every aspect, and our writing and recording experience was essential to that.
Did you accomplish everything you set out to establish with this first release? What are you most excited for this year in 2020?
Soda Blonde: Yes. We’re chuffed with how the music has been received. We’re excited to get on the road and release an album.
I can only imagine what your music translates to in a live setting. Do you have any plans to travel and tour later in the year, once quarantines lift?
Soda Blonde: Yes we’d like to be on the road as soon as possible. It’s all in the pipeline.
What is your favorite thing about making music? What gets you up in the morning each day, excited to be in a band?
Soda Blonde: Being with the people I love and making sounds that I love. The idea of having a place within music that’s enduring and resolute.
Who else are you listening to right now, that you would recommend to our readers?
Soda Blonde: Junior Brother is tapping into something incredible right now within the Irish psyche. Also Porches’ new stuff is class.
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📸 © 2020
an EP by Soda Blonde