Life and everything in-between is all about perspective. The prism of our own experience, how we express ourselves and what we hold on to is deeply personal. Soda Blonde’s Small Talk captures the essence of life itself as a long-form self-portrait, worts and all, both heartwrenching and unflinching. An ambitious theme to tackle, the four-piece deftly weaves this thread through highly stylised synth-pop and intimate wordplay.
Small Talk’s sense of atmospheric contrast is essential to its being. Mirroring the thematic core, songs like album-opener ‘Tiny Darkness’ are dramatic and bold, held together by Soda Blonde’s multi-layered depth of field. While Faye O’Rourke’s vocal performances have a compelling introspection to them. This sonic backdrop sets a foundation of stylistically daring music that makes the record compelling to listen to.
But style without meaning can be isolating. This is where the lyrics come in. There’s a striking honesty to O’Rourke’s words. Pulling no punches, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ tackles conflict with subtle turns of phrases like “I’ll be the north, you be south. You pulled me in as you go out”. While ‘Terrible Hands’ is a work of stark self-examination of relationships, with the line “I think you know to some degree. I’d take the bad parts of you over the good of me,” having a heartwrenching effect. This lyrical openness is what makes Small Talk so compelling, as the music rises to the same emotional depths but never engulfs songs like ‘Love Me World’, where words like “I was lookin’ for a feeling, validate me, shape me, hеal me with love. But from my family and friends and еven you my darling’s not enough” are allowed to be heard.
‘Holy Roses’ steal the show. Taking the introspection that takes place throughout Small Talk, the song twists and turns the perspective. A song about confronting the ghosts of the past, O’Rourke soars the line “you stand in the way but tell me to run” and has pointed air on “so much drama, so much that I never said, so many times that you would bypass me for someone else instead.” Couple this with a bold, dynamic chorus emerging from tense verses, and Soda Blonde’s ability to understand the weight of a song, musically and thematically comes to the fore.
And so it goes, Small Talk is about life in progress. The road to this point, where every stop sign and crossroad is relived with stark perspective. Understanding their own songwriting, Soda Blonde swing for the fences on an album that could have quickly fallen under the weight of such ambition and end up delivering a record of the year contender. Balancing the personal with the musical, Small Talk conveys its meaning in a way that’s worth repeating time after time.