By Alyce Ruby
Three years after the release of their debut album ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, Pale Waves are back with the highly anticipated ‘Who Am I?’. The 2000s pop-punk inspired album shows a much more mature side of the band, who have done a lot of growing since 2018. Despite the obvious influences from artists such as Avril Lavigne and Paramore, they’ve still managed to make the sound their own.
‘Who Am I?’ tackles the personal issues of front woman/song-writer Heather Baron-Gracie’s life, along with fellow band members with lyrical themes of alcohol, drugs, self acceptance, empowerment, sexuality and love. The lyrics on this album speak directly to a younger generation struggling with their mental health, accepting their sexuality and themselves.
I think it’s important for young girls (especially) with these struggles to have somebody like Baron-Gracie to look up to. We have female role models in most genres, but until recently the indie/rock world has been lacking in the mainstream for some time. Having a track like ‘You Don’t Own Me’ as a young girl is important, and important in this genre. The opening, “A pretty face like yours, should really learn to smile more” and lines with ‘lessons’ we’re taught when growing up, is completely shattered by the chorus. A middle finger to the patriarchy. ‘She’s My Religion’ uses she/her pronouns in a romantic context, something not heard often enough in music and a step for Baron-Gracie who has openly struggled with her own sexuality in the past. ‘Tomorrow’ is a heartfelt message a lot of us struggling need to hear, especially during this time. “Tomorrow, wont you stay alive? Give it one more try?” amongst lyrics of difficult situations most of us have or do experience.
The album is vastly different to ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, something I always felt sounded like a female fronted, early The 1975 - which makes sense considering they had just signed to Dirty Hit and Matty Healy co-produced the album. I never disliked it and was a fan of the 80s pop sound both bands produced, but I’m glad Pale Waves are finding their own sound/style. The production on the vocals is much better on this album, the instrumentals don’t drown it out and I’m a personal fan of the 2000’s pop-punk vibes we’re getting. ****