It’s abundantly clear that from the first notes of their debut record, Pale Waves are wasting no time in being a force to be reckoned with. My Mind Makes Noises is ultimately a guitar rock record with a slick, synthesizer sheen. And that’s a really good thing.
“Eighteen” pulsates with a glistening mock-U2 buildup before bursting into an oscillating riffage and gated drums. It feels straight out of a an 80’s teen movie, and that’s kind of the point. It’s a great intro track. “There’s a Honey” continues this trend but with something more melodic and bass-heavy. It also undeniably sounds like pop-rock-synth forbearers The 1975. That’s not coincidental. The band’s George Daniel and Matthew Healy produced the song and also the album track “Television Romance”. They shimmer and bounce just like the songs on Daniel and Healy’s last record.
The album is full of moments like these. But then there’s variations: “Drive,” where vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie delivers a whopping ear-worm: “I drive fast so I can feel something I ruin my own life just for nothing/I fall in and out of love with everything/I really don't know what I'm doing.” It’s a perilously honest lyric by a band whose sound is so youthful and counts on dramatic dynamics, and is quite honestly, one of the album’s best songs. Other tracks like “When Did I Lose It All” plays with slow-dance atmospherics, while “Red” and “Kiss,” near the album’s endpoint, tease at something even more guitar based next time around.
But the album’s finest moment comes with something intensely personal and raw. “Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die” is an acoustic ballad that Baron-Gracie sings with what sounds like holding back tears. It’s a song about her grandfather, where she sings about a song she wrote for him, how he never heard it, but she has it tattooed on him. Not only does she talk about his loss, but also ponders the unknown. “I wonder what it's like to die?/Sometimes you cross my mind/Well that's a fucking lie/Cause you're on my mind all of the time/I wonder, what it's like to die?” The song ends on that lyric. No real resolution, just sadness. For an album that’s highs and lows can immediately sound highfalutin, it’s the song that shows you Pale Waves are anything but artificial.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media
This review was written by Brendan Hilliard, of Obviate Media. Obviate Media is a Chicago-based blog covering music and pop culture. Check them out, here: Obviate Media.