Pale Waves: Who Am I (Dirty Hit) – Review
Who am I
March 02, 2021
Since signing a recording deal with Dirty Hit in 2017, there has always been a sort of dichotomy between Pale Waves from Manchester that visually stops the image of Nu Goth and their actual sound. Their first album, 2018 My mind is making noise, Maybe lacked a bit of variety, but it was a solid start and had more in common with the shimmering ’80s synth-pop than the dark gothic subculture.
On album two, Who am I, the quartet–which includes singer Heather Baron-Gracie (her / her), drummer Ciara Doran (they / them), guitarist Huge Silvani (he / him) and bassist Charlie Wood (he / him)–sounds like a group that has discovered who they are. And in terms of sound, it’s a collection of songs that owe more to the pic of Avril Lavigne, and even Michelle Branch. The spirit room, only for Bela Lugosi being (not) dead or otherwise indisposed.
For such a young band, they’ve had major ups and downs before, playing huge gigs with The 1975, Muse and The Cure. There was also the not insignificant question of the band members surviving a near-fatal bus crash in Berlin while touring Europe with Halsey. After a few false starts, Who am I was written by Baron-Gracie in Los Angeles and addresses issues such as battling your own sanity, exhausting from relentless touring, and embracing your own sexuality. It’s beautifully produced by Rich Costey (Sigur Rós, Interpol, Doves, Charlie XCX, Muse), who gives it just the right amount of pop sparkle while capturing the band’s live energy like their debut never did. .
It would be rude to focus on the weird and awkward lyrics because it’s an album that comes from the heart and is full of positive messages. There are poignant love songs such as “I Just Needed You” and the anthem “She’s My Religion”– in which Baron-Gracie finds empowerment by allowing himself to be vulnerable and open about his sexuality. There is the surge in the euphoric pop power of “Tomorrow”, which has Baron-Gracie proclaiming “Sexuality is not a choice” and there is a challenge in the face of the patriarchal militarization of sexual freedom on ” You Don’t Own Me “:” A pretty face like yours / Really should learn to smile more / And no one is standing up for you / Or they’ll think you’re a whore.
Pale Waves could have simply reproduced the tried and true sound of album one, but Who am I looks like a much more honest portrayal of who are they. As such, there is a tangible sense of release and optimism, almost as if a weight has been lifted. And when Pale Waves hit the sweet spot, which they do most often throughout the album, Baron-Gracie shows she knows a thing or two about writing scintillating pop hymns ready for the album. festival and stimulating the guitar. (www.palewaves.co.uk)
Author’s Note: 7/ten
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Average reader rating: 4/ten