7 December, 2023Time
Doors @ 7.30PM. Show starts @ 8PM.Cost
“I know what I am. I know what I could be. Put me in my place but nothing can hold me.”
- ‘Dream Big,’ Soda Blonde
“Dream Big”, the second studio album from Irish band Soda Blonde, is far more than a collection of
catchy and cathartic pop songs; it’s a mantra – a mission statement from four lifelong friends. It’s their
promise to themselves, and a message to all who come along for the ride: A reminder that life is
precious, fragile, and fleeting, so we might as well dream big and hold nothing back.
Epic in size and intimate in scope, “Dream Big” holds a microscope in one hand and a mirror in the
other as our innermost thoughts and feelings get a soundtrack of their very own. “I feel like my job is
to be as human as possible and to expose all of my innermost thoughts without fear of judgment,”
Soda Blonde’s enigmatic frontwoman Faye O’Rourke says. “Not to tell people what’s right or wrong,
but just to be vulnerable and allow them to figure that out for themselves.”
For O’Rourke and her bandmates (guitarist Adam O’Regan, drummer Dylan Lynch, and bassist
Donagh Seaver-O’Leary), music has always been a multifaceted pursuit – a source of entertainment,
sure, but even more importantly, a vessel of authenticity. The four have been playing in bands
together since their teenage years and had nearly ten years under their belt before introducing the
world to Soda Blonde in 2019.
Following two successful introductory EPs (2019’s “Terrible Hands” and 2020’s “Isolation Content”),
they released their debut album, “Small Talk”, in 2021. The LP was subsequently nominated for RTÉ’s
Choice Music Prize for Album of the Year and received rave reviews from Paste Magazine, Atwood
Magazine, and The Irish Times, who called it “a record so articulate and expressive that its title has to
be a wry in-joke.”
The band have grown tremendously in the two years since their debut, and it shows. Whereas “Small
Talk” was an anxiety-fuelled coming-of-age record about navigating their twenties, “Dream Big” is a
mature awakening to the world at large; one that dives deeper and hits harder than its predecessor. “It
definitely was a conscious titling, that relationship between Small Talk and Dream Big,” the band’s
guitarist and producer Adam O’Regan explains. “Small Talk was trying to decipher whether everything
meant something or nothing. With Dream Big, we’ve arrived at the point that it means something.”
That revelation comes in the form of eleven smouldering songs full of raw passion, bold sonics, and
hard truths. O’Rourke’s achingly emotive, deeply existential songwriting explores the brutality and the
fragility of life as she comes to terms with who she is as a person, and where she is at this point in her
“To dream big is to just have a basic roof over your head,” O’Rourke says. “It’s a reflection on where
we all find ourselves and what people our age are going through. We’re trying to find a home – literally
and spiritually. The lethargy, rage and confusion of it all can be exhausting. But we’re inching forward
and dreaming of something bigger.”
“Dream Big” is as much a product of self-reflective reckoning as it is one of submission, and both of
these experiences are borne out in its songs. The band set the tone on album opener “Midnight
Show,” a stunningly cinematic power ballad weighing disillusionment with the music industry on one
hand, and the unapologetic pursuit of one’s desires – to the point of prostituting yourself for success –
on the other.
“It’s about how things are consumed, and the pressure of having to be social media influencers as
well as artists,” O’Rourke explains. “It can sometimes feel like a form of prostitution, all the things that
are required of us. I don’t enjoy putting myself out there and exposing myself in those ways; it’s easier
for me to express myself one on one or through music. So that has been a journey, asking, ‘What do
we have to do to make this work?’ Do we just submit ourselves over to this virtual playground, and not
take it personally?”.
The record’s angular and broad-shouldered lead single “Bad Machine” leans into self-acceptance, but
it does not do so unilaterally. “We can be slaves to our own impulses,” O’Regan says of the turbulent,
sonically charged song. “This idea that ‘every part of me is a bad machine breaking everything all the
time, every part of me has been wired to repeat, I’ve got a bad desire by design,’ it’s this idea of
recognizing that this is just a part of who you are and going with that; but it’s a double-edged sword.
Sometimes taking a chance, being spontaneous and taking a risk – they’re not always the safest
moves to make, but that propensity to dare is what makes us great. We wouldn’t exist without it.”
“Dream Big” leaves no stone unturned: “You are so damaged,” O’Rourke sings in “Boys,” channelling
inner pain and fracture into a visceral and textured anthem. Our physical (and mental) fragility comes
to the forefront on the beautifully bittersweet “An Accident,” a tender ballad balancing tragedy with
hope: “An accident can happen at any time, should be glad I’m alive, along for the ride with you,”
O’Rourke concludes, opting to look up despite all the negative forces outside of her control.
Meanwhile in “Space Baby,” Soda Blonde breathe fresh energy into a song about love, honesty,
and claustrophobia, by quite literally removing the breaths themselves: O’Regan employed a chopped
production technique to the track, sucking out all the air to recreate the lyrics’ stifled sensation.
In “Why Die for Danzig,” Soda Blonde revive an anti-WWII slogan, originally written by French NeoSocialist Marcel Déat, for a song that delves not only into war, but also into how people treat refugees
differently depending on where they come from. “People have a propensity towards anger without
fully understanding things,” O’Rourke says. “There’s a powerlessness, and people do get off on
having a topic of conversation, but how much do they actually care?” There are plenty of moments of
redemption and reverie – Soda Blonde’s version of shining a light in the darkness – here as well.
“We’ve really let go of a lot of things probably out of necessity,” O’Rourke reflects. “I’m realizing
that in order to survive, I have to make peace with a lot of those things and come to terms with
them.” The spirited and soaring anthem “My First Name” is an emotional reclamation of where the
artist is at in her life. “I am subject to my biology but not subject to how the world views me,” she says.
“I want to be comfortable in an aging body and to make others comfortable too, even though I’m not
“I’ve gone through a lot in terms of my journey as a woman this year, and I think that, for me,
there’s an ownership on this record that can be heard. It’s aggressive and self-assured, and I
feel it’s an important stance to take – even if it is just bravado.”
O’Rourke’s intensely confessional songwriting and the band’s lifelong friendship come to life in a
musical journey full of raw passion, bold sonics, and hard truths. Soda Blonde’s second album
goes far beyond their own liberation, exploring a dichotomy between vulnerability and rage that feels
especially prescient today.
Ultimately, “Dream Big” is for everyone. “In a world where everything is so disposable, we hope
people feel like they own a piece of this album,” O’Rourke shares. “We hope they feel a sense of
empowerment, realizing that the journey is a common thing, and we’re all on the same path.”
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