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PALE WAVES - 'Who Am I?' Album Review


1. Change

2. Fall To Pieces

3. She’s My Religion

4. Easy

5. Wish U Were Here

6. Tomorrow

7. You Don’t Own Me

8. I Just Needed You

9. Odd Ones Out

10. Run To

11. Who Am I?

On the 12th of February, Manchester Indie rockers PALE WAVES release their second album, Who Am I?, via Dirty Hit Records.

The album opens in an extremely strong manner with lead single ‘Change’, which ushers in a new era with a new sound. Many described their first album as a spiritual heir to The Cure, whereas this time around, they’re using Avril Lavigne as a reference point, while, naturally, putting their own spin on it. Heather Baron-Gracie’s vocals are amazing, and her lyrics are even better, imbuing their Indie sound with Pop-Punk stylings and it works so well. The mixture of electronic synth sounds and mellow guitars, both electric and acoustic, introduce the album perfectly.

The second track, ‘Fall To Pieces’, follows on perfectly, feeling almost like an extension of ‘Change’. It begins on another mellow guitar riff, with Baron-Gracie’s distinct vocals and an electronic drum-beat join, giving way to a small buildup to take you into the emotional chorus. The track ends with a low-key guitar solo. The whole band works together incredibly well, producing a track that stands out amongst a great album.

The album hits a more up-tempo stride in ‘Tomorrow’. The lyrics in this track stand out to me, sending a message of acceptance, particularly in the line “don’t listen to society”, telling their fans just to be themselves. It’s always amazing to see band members such as Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran, who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, use their platform to spread positivity. The song is extremely upbeat and positive, something we’re in desperate need of with the current state of the world.

Another of the more up-tempo songs on the album is ‘Run To’, which tackles themes like mental health issues and self-identity. It once again provides relatable lyrics for today’s generation, particularly those struggling with their mental health, while making it an upbeat song that makes you feel good about yourself.

The album finishes on a more sombre note with the title track, ‘Who Am I?’, which provides a perfect summation for the album. It’s emotional and vulnerable, but it still maintains a glimmer of hope. With a haunting piano line under stripped back acoustic guitar chords that slowly and subtly fade out, it’ll make you choke up in a very cathartic way.

Who Am I? is a brilliant sophomore record, with a sound that has matured from PALE WAVES’ first record in 2018. The lyrical themes are very personal, but are still extremely accessible and relatable for many, providing a record that many will connect with in a very intimate way. The Pop Punk influences shine through very heavily, and the fusion with their Indie style works so well, even for those who aren’t necessarily fans of Pop Punk. If they continue like this, PALE WAVES will almost certainly reach the heights of bands like Arctic Monkeys.

Review - Gordon Rae


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