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Absolute Zero
Little Green Cars Absolute Zero
Released 19 August 2013
Producer Markus Davs
Label Glassnote
Genre Indie rock, folk rock
Website littlegreencars.co.uk
86

In pole position leading the field of new Irish bands come Little Green Cars with their gem of a debut Absolute Zero. LGC’s first-ever gig was at the Electric Picnic several years ago and the Dublin quintet returned to the scene by playing to a jam-packed Electric Arena at last weekend’s EP. The approach of opening with a couple of hymnal a capella tunes drew criticism from some quarters when a ‘burst from the traps’ was thought more fitting. However, such is the richness of the Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies showcased on this album, you have to say: if you’ve got it, flaunt it. And in terms of vocal ability, LGC have it in spades.

Absolute Zero – one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated debuts – owes a debt to transatlantic melody-driven guitar bands like REM and Band of Horses. From first track, 'Harper Lee', to the Appalachian guitar lilt of album closer, 'Goodbye Blue Monday', the Americana influence continues with nods to Charles Bukowski in the album title, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird in the album opener and an icon of American cinema in 'The John  Wayne'. It’s all very apt for music with such expansive open-prairie ambitions.

Lead vocals and songwriting duties are shared between Steve Appleby and Faye O’Rourke, and with instrumentation including guitars, piano and O’Rourke’s wurlitzer, it makes for a full depth of sound and subject matter, all overlaid with those wonderful four-part harmonies. Lyrically, a yearning melancholia dominates the album but things take a darker turn from time to time with 'Them', the domestic desolation of 'The Kitchen Floor' and the Southern Gothic murder balladry of the haunting 'My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me'. Darkness always finds the light though, in the redemption of another sumptuous vocal harmony.

Tracks like the 'Big Red Dragon', 'Them' and sublime indie radio favourite 'The John Wayne', do crank things up a notch, though a nagging desire does remain for LGC to forsake the gorgeousness of it all, put the pedal to the metal and just let things rip.

Still, this is a highly accomplished piece of work, especially impressive for a group barely out of their teens. LGC also seem to have connections in all the right places. They have Arcade Fire/Coldplay/Mumford & Sons producer Markus Dravs on hand for expert knob-twiddling; they were selected for the BBC Sound of 2013 songlist; they’ve played at crucial industry events like Austin’s South by Southwest and US festivals like Coachella; and are signed to US record label Glassnote, which has led acts like Two Door Cinema Club and Mumford & Sons to major crossover appeal. Expect big things to come.

- Cian Doherty