It’s fair to say Pale Waves have been doing pretty well for themselves of recent, teasing their Dirty Hit cult fan base for months now about a debut record and now My Mind Makes Noises, their debut, is out, as of the 14th of September.
Whilst Pale Waves’ early recordings were produced by George & Matty from The 1975, this record was produced by Jon Gilmore (Twenty One Pilots, Wolf Alice). Although Gilmore has worked with The 1975 and other Dirty Hit bands himself, It’s important to try and keep a clean mind when listening to this record.
“Eighteen” is a kick-start into 80’s driving, and it’s pure goth pop magic. Whilst lyrically obvious, the song is an easy to follow crowd pleaser. The synths, guitars and thunderous yet simplistic rhythm section seem to just pump non-stop energy into the song, expectation met. “There’s a Honey” has a hooky guitar riff beyond belief. Structurally and lyrically it’s another well-constructed and balanced pop anthem.
Lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie has a theme it seems with her lyrical conscience, an inner reflection into her insecurities perhaps? “Noises” definitely reflects that, and although it’s dynamically slower as a song, it’s still pop filth. Although I’m trying very hard to not link their sound to The 1975, it’s hard to not do so with this track. The spoken word bridge followed by the 80’s electric Tom drums leading into a screeching static guitar solo…it’s a bit obvious. On “Came in Close,” the synth floodgates have burst.
On “Loveless Girl,” the chopped up vocal sample is definitely a curveball for the better. However, it doesn’t belong with the ruthless lyrical content that already contrasts with the synth ballad music in this track. Nevertheless, it is a nice dip, however, to prepare us for what’s to come. “Drive” is lyrically quite generic, yet the music itself is epic.
“When Did I Lose It All?” is Baron-Gracie at her most vulnerable. It’s honest and so refreshing; this sounds like Pale Waves in their element. Lyrically it made me shiver and I wanted to hear it again and again, it’s personal, and that’s how it should be. “She” is simple which is essential for this track. Following “When Did I Lose It All?” the lyrics stand out so much. This segment of the record more so than before is a war cry to Baron-Gracie’s heartbreak.
“One More Time” is an indie summer romance anthem, whilst “Television Romance” is a better version of the first quarter to the album. Tat pop structure we’re so familiar with that Pale Waves love to deliver so well just sticks in the brain. The gritty guitar riff over those soft synth leads just screams summer time. On “Red,” the descriptiveness in Baron-Gracie’s lyrics are finally surfacing, however late in the record. The song could’ve done without the synths, though. As much as I love synths, it’s just not needed sometimes, and it actually took away depth from the track.
The bass throughout “Kiss” is fantastic. All the levels just complement each other as they should and it has an undeniably catchy chorus. Baron-Gracie sounds a bit different in this song, fresher vocally perhaps. Sadly “Black” was lyrically quite pointless and added no depth to the record. Granted the track is very varied in terms of its musical dynamics but it couldn’t hold its own the way many of the other tracks could
“Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like to Die)” is the finale the album deserved. The most honest lyrically and the most stripped back musically, it’s quite the tear-jerker. It undoubtedly sets the standard for Pale Waves, keeping it honest and raw. A fantastic end to a rollercoaster of an album.