Preview: Pale Waves – ‘My Mind Makes Noises’
Pale Waves are very much a band on the rise. 2018 has seen them amass a dedicated following, a signing to Interscope Records, and now the release of their much-anticipated debut album, My Mind Makes Noises. This album title brilliantly sets the tone for the tracks, with primary songwriters, comprised of lead vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran, dealing with themes which put on display their innermost anxieties and fears, while also portraying the hope and positive emotions the songs’ melodies convey.
The band enlisted Matty Healy and George Daniel of The 1975 fame in producing roles, and you can certainly identify similarities in Pale Waves’ synth, and 80s inspired music, which they wear on their sleeve. However, with this release Pale Waves manage to carve out their own distinct sound, made largely with beautiful juxtaposition between dark, moody basslines and keyboards, and significantly upbeat guitar riffs. This is most shown prominently in what was the album’s first single ‘There’s a Honey’, as the low bassline clashes with one of the band’s most catchy and joyous guitar riffs. This is one example of the instrumental composition on the tracks suiting the songs’ themes superbly, as the contrast of low and upbeat melodies are the perfect backdrop for There’s a Honey’s portrayal of a tumultuous relationship. Overall, the instrumentation across the album is nothing less than stellar, and particular praise must be given to bassist Charlie Wood, and lead guitarist Hugo Silvani as they play off each other to give the songs a layered, varied atmosphere.
The true standout of My Mind Makes Noises, thanks to Baron-Gracie and Doran’s song writing, has to be its lyrics. They are relatable, and unapologetically revealing, with the song ‘Noises’ being a particular highlight as Baron-Gracie speaks directly to herself. The chorus powerfully portrays the up and downs of mental health, with lines such as “I can’t control my emotions lately, I’m excited, I’m sad, then baby I’ve had it” displaying a refreshingly honest fragility that is lacking in many of the band’s contemporaries. Yet again the instrumentation works in strong unison with the lyrics of the song, with the steady, muted guitar at the beginning building a suitable tension which later bursts into vibrant, captivating synths. The song ‘She’ also uses the band’s instrumental prowess wisely, as the keyboard chords are allowed to simmer, and the simple yet atmospheric bassline provides a stable platform for Baron-Gracie’s vocals to shine. The song’s lyrics are devastating, as she wonders how someone could stop loving her in a matter of days, and accuses them, “you weren’t satisfied, till you f**ked somebody else”. The song concludes with a guitar solo backed fittingly with Doran’s ever-hard hitting drumming, which acts as the perfect backdrop for listeners to reflect on song’s powerful story.
The album’s closing track, ‘Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like to Die)’, is the album’s most poignant, as Baron-Gracie confronts the grief she has experienced from the loss of her grandfather. The song marks the only time acoustic guitar makes an appearance on the record, and the gorgeous arpeggios that come as a result, mixed with the complete absence of bass or percussion, create one of the most moving conclusions to an album I’ve heard in a long time.
However, while perfectly displaying their talents for writing catchy, and lyrically moving songs, the band could have benefitted from more experimentation, as upon repeated listens it becomes apparent that the pacing of the album does not flow amazingly. The majority of songs have a very quick tempo and follow a similar, eventually slightly grinding, formula featuring similar chord progressions, which is uncomfortably brought to a halt by the ensuing, slower ballads ‘When Did I Lose It All’ and ‘She’. This is not to say any of the songs are substandard in anyway, but perhaps the songs could have been placed on the tracklist in an order which allowed for a more varied, and better flowing listen rather than a section of fast songs followed by the slower tracks. While this album is truly enjoyable, with relatable, unapologetically revealing lyrics, I can’t wait to see what the band will evolve into as they grow, improve, and work up to their second record.
Make sure to check out My Mind Makes Noises when it releases this Friday! Also, see them live when they go on tour later this month!
Image Credit: Dirty Hit