Album Review // PALE WAVES ‘My Mind Makes Noises’
The Manchester four-piece’s blend of dark atmospherics and refreshing pop is utterly beguiling.
Over the past year, Pale Waves have set themselves up as prime makers of heartbreak pop. Finally now unleashing their awaited debut album My Mind Makes Noises, we see these goth-poppers properly emerging from the shadows. Managing to already persuade avid listeners to dedicated fans, the band are sure to make an even more notable impression.
Opening with the triumphant, synth-led Eighteen, the record immediately embraces pop vibes, bursting with colour and wide-eyed wonder. The slow, downbeat tone of each verse, contrasted with the upbeat, fast-paced chorus mirrors the unpredictability of teenage years, taking you on a journey of the highs and lows we all can relate to.
It is apparent the band grab all the best bits of 80s pop music and 90s indie to produce something utterly thrilling and futuristic, as seen on previous tracks such as indie-pop belters There’s A Honey and Television Romance. Their more recent singles have pushed their sound into daring new ground. From electronic Came In Close, to emotional When Did I Lose It All? sees Baron-Gracie redo her knack for creating wistful choruses to sing-along to. Throughout When Did I Lose It All?, you hear sweet words gathered together to form the main lyrical body. Their glossy sheen remains, but is joined by a new-found grit as Baron-Gracie croons, “I’m letting you go for now / I want to marry you but not now.” Being some sort of rock ballad, its naive charm uncontrollably shimmers, especially during the chorus.
Atmospheric She brings crushing heartbreak and betrayal as we hear Baron-Gracie question “Does she make you feel as good as I do?”. From the opening thuds of synth that greet the track, it’s clear that Loveless Girl also carries the reflecting emotional weight of a previous love. When looking at each song some have a subtle reference to another, with the lyrics Loveless Girl referring to a “television breakthrough” not too dissimilar to the concept used in Television Romance.
A minor criticism is that Pale Waves have stuck on a formula in which they rarely budge from. Nevertheless, it seems to be working incredibly well for them, brimmed with almighty atmospheric verses, soaring choruses, and synth guitars. Having said that, 14 songs is a lot to get through and while there is no filler here, tracks like Noises and Black don’t really bring anything new to the table.
Saying this, when you reach the final piece you start to question any doubts you may have. Closer Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die), is where Baron-Gracie vulnerably recalls losing a family member with distinct detail and unfaltering honesty. There’s something jarring yet admirable about how her floating, fragile voice is so straight-up, elegantly sharing her personal thoughts and feelings. “Sometimes you cross my mind / Well that’s a fucking lie cuz you’re on my mind all of the time / I Wonder What It’s Like To Die”. This truly allows us an insight into the complexity of emotions involved in some of the group’s writing, which hugely contrast to the feel-good pop tunes that form the majority of the album.
With their open-chest songwriting and retro tendencies, Pale Waves have managed to capture pure pop-synth feelings, creating songs for a teen rom-com that is yet to exist. Is your heart broken yet? It soon will be.