Album Review: Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises

By Live4ever - Posted on 11 Sep 2018 at 8:35am

Isn’t this album already out?

It certainly feels like it’s been coming for a long time, but that’s probably testimony to the ripples Pale Waves have been making for a number of years now. Joint songwriters Ciara Doran and Heather Baron-Gracie first met at university in Manchester in late 2014 and after bringing kindred spirits Hugo and Charlie into the fold some time later, began uploading songs the following year.

Spotted the old-fashioned way (i.e. playing a gig), they were swiftly offered a slot on an XFM-sponsored showcase night which brought them to the attention of DJ John Kennedy. Eventually put in touch with Dirty Hit, the label behind The 1975 and Wolf Alice, they have since been building up a head of steam with some killer singles and EPs and, after being heavily tipped at the beginning of 2018 as ones to watch, the album is finally here. It’s fair to expect similar levels of success as their label-mates to come the goth popsters’ way.

You may have never known you wanted a mix of Taylor Swift and The Cure in your life but here it is, with added brutally honest lyrics. Starting with the stomping Eighteen, a paean to the rigours of being that age, the effects of love and the discombobulating effect it has on the hormones and the heart, Baron-Gracie puts all cards on the table from the off.

At times it borders on uncomfortable listening such is the insecurity evidenced here. ‘I feel pathetic in so many ways, how can you just stop loving me in a matter of days’ she laments on the gut-wrenching She, the centre-piece of the album. There’s no ambiguity, this is confronting variations of emotions that we’ve all had, but were so much rawer the first time experienced.

The 1975 frontman Matt Healy has co-produced some of the record, and it shows. Synth-driven tracks dominate proceedings with the vocals often double-tracked to add to the wistful ambience. It’s polished pop, but not to the extent that it blinds you – there is soul amongst the sheen. Meanwhile, the guitar solo on Red comes straight from Dave Keuning’s locker. Indeed, The Killers are often evoked here; the dance-pop feverishness of Kiss echoes the pace and urgency that Hot Fuss was built upon.

The heartbreak goes further on final track Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die). Presumably to a family member, it’s a gut-wrenching ode. ‘Sometimes you cross my mind…that’s a lie, you’re on my mind all the time’. Otherwise, there’s not much deviation from the source material of affairs of the heart, but it’s well-ploughed turf for a reason, and in Pale Waves’ hands it’s never boring, in fact, rarely has it been so evocative.

This album makes you feel like you’re back in that golden/dreadful period between 17-22; for those in that age range in 2018, this is surely a record that will be held close to their hearts for the rest of their lives.

For the rest of us, we can just appreciate its lack of inhibitions.

(Richard Bowes)

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