Honest, conflicted and entirely recognisable to anyone who has lived through their twenties and paused for a moment of introspection, the latest single ‘Holy Roses’ from rousing Dublin four-piece, Soda Blonde, is the third of its kind to blaze the trail ahead of the band’s hotly anticipated debut album Small Talk. All four of Soda Blonde’s band members hail from the critically acclaimed BBC Sound Of nominees, Little Green Cars, whose debut album Absolute Zero hit the number one spot in Ireland in 2013.
Soda Blonde have thrived in crafting their novel dreamy alt-pop sound during Lockdown through a shared need to make music whilst making peace with their younger selves, amid refreshingly honest transparency. Front-woman, songwriter and mesmerising vocalist Fay O’Rourke has said that the alchemy of the project lies in the “meticulousness and devotion to every detail” prevalent in the writing process from the moment O’Rourke sends the initial sample across to guitarist Adam O’Regan, to the moment the band, who are self-producing every detail, sign off on their own artwork.
It’s this new and authentic process of creating – adding and passing on to the next band member – that has resulted in the solely self-produced single ‘Holy Roses’ which deconstructs the intricacies of religion, science, fate and choice through the band members’ twenty-something lived experiences. The track started in the hands of O’Rourke who, “with feminism on one shoulder and trans-generational catholic guilt on the other”, has admitted to finding the process of de-programming herself as an Irish woman extremely hard. By directly addressing those who “bypassed” her and stood in her way, O’Rourke reflects on this single as one of the most important on the album, closing the door on past experiences of oppression in a moment of reckoning and letting go.
The simple melancholy and raw riffs provided by O’Regan at the start of this track lay down the foundations of a progressive and poignant pop song, with both delicate and masterful melodies to soundtrack your summer nostalgia. So, it’s only fair that the introduction of Donagh Seaver-O’Leary’s understated yet vivacious bass-line takes you on a leap down memory lane as it underlines O’Rourke’s inner-most contradictory conscience. The partnership of synthetic delay and reverb, catchy and warm backing vocals in the pre-chorus, alongside the introduction of an obscure off-beat percussion section from drummer Dylan Lynch, all flow meticulously into one another to personify the shadow of painful past experiences in this perfect pop sensation.
‘Holy Roses’ is all about confronting contradictions, so it is no surprise that the chorus steals the ground from beneath our feet with its luminous and epically uplifting appeal. We are transported into our inner-most selves by O’Rourke’s ethereal and dominating vocal, hitting notes that I haven’t heard in this alt-pop setting since those heard on Rae Morris’ 2015 release Unguarded.
Small Talk is set for release on 9th July via Velveteen Records, ahead of the band’s summer tour featuring a date supporting Sinead O’Connor at Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens – not bad for a band new to the scene. This may be the first you’ve heard of them, but it won’t be the last…