New Musical Express (NME) - 70 Based on rating 3.5/5
Noted in the accursed BBC Sound Of… poll earlier this year, Dublin five-piece Little Green Cars are post-folk in a very 2013 way. High up the Mumfords scale, checking the boxes for straining vocals, loud and quiet dynamics, thumping bass drums and American gothic lyrics about rivers and literature. But there’s other stuff going on too, including Teenage Fanclub-style harmonies on the spirited single ‘Harper Lee’ (named after the author of GCSE English Lit classic To Kill A Mockingbird), weird Autotune on ‘Red And Blue’ (take that, Kanye) and – importantly – good songwriting.
"Harper Lee," the alternately bloody and bucolic leadoff cut on Irish indie folk collective Little Green Cars' Glassnote debut, may not deal directly with the To Kill a Mockingbird author from whom it derives its name, but its fevered protagonist, who repeatedly intones "There's a gun in the attic/Let me go grab it/I'd blow holes in my soul just so you could look past it," echoes the loss of innocence at the heart of the Pulitzer Prize-winning story. It's a theme that obviously resonates with the group, whose members are barely in their twenties, but for each pounding of fists against the injustices of adulthood, there's a roar of pure, youthful joy, albeit tempered with the resigned bleat of heartache. The past is still too raw and relatively close to devolve completely into nostalgia, but co-lead vocalist Steven Appleby's throaty, emotive croon sounds as sentimental as it does world-weary, and it casts a wistful patina over otherwise stadium-ready songs like the aforementioned "Lee" and "Big Red Dragon," the latter of which benefits greatly from Arcade Fire/Coldplay/Mumford & Sons producer Markus Drav's expansive knob twiddling.
This debut album from Dublin five-piece Little Green Cars, dealing almost exclusively with young love and its discontents, is a study in sincerity. The heartfelt manner with which principal vocalist Stevie Appleby expresses his feelings throughout the album means that by the end, when he sings "If I thought you loved me once/ Then I'd be happy forever", it doesn't sound like romantic hyperbole. The results can be a thrilling immediacy, but Appleby lays it on a bit thick, which is why Faye O'Rourke's powerful, bruised vocals on three songs out of 11 prove a welcome respite.
After forming in 2008, it’s fair to say that Little Green Cars’ debut album can rightly be described as ‘long-awaited’. The five-piece from Dublin may have taken a while to release their first record – something that may be due to the fact they are all still only 20 years old – but in the last couple of years they have really started to lay the foundations for what was always going to be a big 2013 for them. Following impressive performances during tours of America and the UK in 2012, Little Green Cars were shortlisted in the BBC Sound Of 2013 poll.
Between Best Fit’s own Ones to Watch list and the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll last December, the long-awaited debut album from Irish five-piece Little Green Cars wasn’t likely to take people by surprise. Knockout Stateside sets at SXSW and Coachella, not to mention a spot on the Jimmy Fallon show, all contributed to high hopes east and west of Dublin. Absolute Zero sets off apace in chasing expectations.