Album Review: Little Green Cars – Absolute Zero

By on Friday, 26th April 2013 at 12:00 pm

Little Green Cars Absolute Zero coverOh my God, I really wanted to like this album from Dublin’s Little Green Cars. Early single ‘The John Wayne’ was absolutely stupendous, and thankfully that song appears on the album release. Starting off with an appealing deep drum beat, the vocals soar over the top and repeat just enough to make it feel familiar instantly. The EP ‘Harper Lee’ continued to set expectations high for Little Green Cars. Luckily again, the title track from the EP is on the album and is terrific. But the rest of the album gives me pause. I feel like the album is all over the place. Maybe I am missing something and this is a treatise on the collapse of both society as a whole, or the music industry specifically, but as an ‘album’ I don’t think they quite pulled it off.

The trading off of vocals seems to be a thing now. At first I was quite enamoured of it. I’ve heard brilliant treatments of this style (see Milo Greene, Of Monsters and Men) but I am getting a little tired of it. Multiple-vocal fatigue, maybe? Perhaps it is part in parcel with alt-folk fatigue. Stevie Appleby’s voice is so dissimilar from Faye O’Rourke’s that it makes tracks where they take lead individually quite at odds with one another. I don’t dispute that when blended together the sound is quite lovely. But when an album is filled with three distinct ‘sounds’ (O’Rourke alone, Appleby on lead or a harmonised lead), it just doesn’t flow. My problem with the album is not that there aren’t good songs on it, there are. I love ‘Them’, ‘The Kitchen Floor’ and the earlier releases. My problem is with the lack of cohesion on the release.

‘My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me’ seems modeled after Florence and the Machine. O’Rourke sounds very Flo-like here and the storyline of the song is also reminiscent of ‘What the Water Gave Me’. However, voice is even more enjoyable to listen to, it can be both delicate and earthy. ‘The Kitchen Floor’ shows this off spectacularly. Organ-heavy song ‘Red and Blue’ didn’t set well with me because of all the vocal manipulation. It didn’t go with anything else on the disc and muddied their usually clear voices and harmonies. However, see my review here of them playing in Washington DC to read how they brilliantly transformed this song live.

Let me be clear, I did get an opportunity to see Little Green Cars play live before the release of the album and I really enjoyed the gig. Perhaps they are one of those bands whose live performance outshines their recorded work. On repeated listens, the album did grow on me. But my main beef remains. Is the album format dead? Are artists reduced to stringing songs they individually like together so they can release an album? I sure hope not.


‘Absolute Zero’ will be out on the 13th May through Island Records. Watch the promo video for ‘Harper Lee’ below. For a listing of their live dates, go here.


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4 Responses

4:52 pm
26th April 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Little Green Cars @littlegreencars – Absolute Zero:

8:11 pm
26th April 2013

Your Comment

Your review is undermined by the fact that you mix up two songs by LGC …. Red and blue … That’s the one on the album… And Red… Performed live but not on the album… The key point of your review tho is that the album is a multiple listen grower.. Just be patient.. You’ll grow to love it.. I hope!!!
Thanks for posting the review…

[…] Zero’ will be out on the 13th May through Island Records; read Cheryl’s review of the album here. Little Green Cars also make an appearance at the Great Escape next month in […]

[…] their debut album ‘Absolute Zero’ that came out earlier this year. (Read Cheryl’s review of the album and their live show in DC in March.) The title of the song is pretty heavy, so it makes sense that […]

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