Pale Waves have enjoyed a good start to their career, after co-producing their first two singles ‘There’s a Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’ with label-mates The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel. They spend their summer playing a number of UK festivals, each drawing a good crowd for their catchy and radio-friendly indiepop.
Following a productive summer, the Manchester-based foursome released their debut album My Mind Makes Noises on Friday. “It feels crazy” vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie said. “Even when I’m listening to it on my phone, it’s still so odd to picture us with a full-length album of Pale Waves music. We’ve worked so hard for this to happen and now it’s actually, finally here.”
The album opens with ‘Eighteen’, and tells the story of when Baron-Gracie was, funnily enough, eighteen and fell in love. ‘I had an amazing time, they were a wicked person, and then it came to an end, but it was ready to end.’ The track offers big poppy riffs and feels big enough to carry Pale Waves to massive live venues.
Next up is ‘There’s a Honey’. The track, that was their debut single, offers a perspective on a crumbling relationship. Lyrics like ‘there’s somebody that I know I’m bad for’ tackle unhealthy relationships, taking the point of view of the bad influence, subverting the expectation of the bad boy and innocent teenager.
The third track on the album is ‘Noises’, which contains the lyric from which the album title is derived. It’s the first song on the album that grapples with insecurities and dealing with low esteem, with Heather saying she couldn’t wait until “people who are a bit insecure about stuff” could hear that song, because she felt like people would “feel better after it” and that they’d know “that other people feel that way”. It’s a more raw cut that we’re used to from the band.
‘Came in Close’ is the first step away from the cookie cutter indie pop we’re used to from Pale Waves and sees them take on big grooves and even bigger synths. Track five is ‘Loveless Girl’. Baron-Gracie said the title came from the nickname her friends gave her for being “cold”. This song gives off strong The 1975 vibes with synth ridden intro and the distorted refrain ‘you’re loveless girl’ repeated throughout the song.
Starting with a glittering synth line and moving into soaring guitars, ‘Drive’ is a song that explores similar topics to ‘Noises’. There’s feelings of being misunderstood and overanalysing things again.
‘When Did I Lose It All?’’s atmospheric intro isn’t dis similar to that of Daughter’s way of building tension especially on tracks like ‘Medicine’. Baron-Gracie’s softened vocals tell us the tale of an off-and-on relationship. ‘She’ is another track that is clearly inspired by The 1975, with the slow synth intro. The track is a teenage exploration of heartbreak and infidelity.
Track nine is ‘One More Time’, a song reflecting on a failed relationship and the feelings lost through time, and wanting that person ‘one more time’ before it ends. The eleventh track is ‘Red’, a song that questions whether or not a relationship is going to work. Baron-Gracie said that the track began as an acoustic number, before drummer Ciara Doran reworked it into a pop song.
‘Kiss’ follows that up, which was one of the first songs Baron-Gracie wrote for the band. There’s a sense of an inevitable end to the relationship described in this song, another example of Pale Waves wrapping a downbeat story in an upbeat melody. ‘Black’ is the penultimate track on the record, and was born out of what Baron-Gracie felt was a fraying in the friendship between her and drummer Doran. After some time of Doran urging Baron-Gracie to finish the track, and after around two years, it was.
The final track on the album is ‘Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like to Die)’, which is a tribute to Baron-Gracie’s grandad, and the grieving processes. It’s the only acoustic track featured on the album and is a touching end to the album.
The album has drawn criticism for being somewhat formulaic, and having several songs that are sonically similar. Whilst that’s true, Pale Waves rely on similar themes from song to song and songs share similar lyrics and riffs, Pale Waves have still produced a strong debut record. They’ve demonstrated they can produce catchy tracks that are instantly relatable, and with this full length effort have shown a softer side to their music, with several slower tracks such as ‘When Did I Lose It All?’ and ‘She’.
All in all, a strong effort for their debut album, a solid platform to build upon and perhaps break from the formula that so far seems to have stuck by them.