Who Am I?
February 12 2021 (Dirty Hit)
Words: Ellie Ward
Pale Waves return for the follow up to their 2018 goth-rock debut 'My Mind Makes Noise', with ssecond foray, ‘Who Am I?’
Here the Mancunians embrace their pop sensibilities over 11 tracks covering mental health, sexuality, and social constraints on today's younger generation.
Recorded in Los Angeles early last year with Rich Costey (Muse, Biffy Clyro, Sigur Ros), the confident, if not better, latest venture trades in much of their synth style for a harder, pop-rock feel; letting go of comparisons to The 1975, by taking on board an early Avril Lavigne influence.
Opening with the guitar-led 'Change', lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie reflects on her own depression, distraction, and "feelings of darkness", but also her experience of "falling in love, emerging with a clarity and optimism - being more open about her sexuality and stepping forward as the sort of front woman she couldn’t see when she was growing up.” The poignant power ballad 'Fall To Pieces' is followed by the raw grunge-pop love song 'She’s My Religion', a personal track where Baron-Gracie directly employs she/her pronouns in the ode to her girlfriend.
'Easy', a “song about how love can change your whole entire perspective on life itself," is Pale Waves showing what they do best, bringing back a big chorus and shredding synths, while 'You Don’t Own Me' provides a wealth of pop-punk, before showing a more tender side with 'Wish U Were Here' and 'I Just Needed You'.
While ‘Who Am I?’ doesn't quite cut the mustard as its predecessor did, it will no doubt appease their strong fanbase with its standout moments scattered amongst the less impressionable cuts.