Album Review – Pale Waves

Pale Waves -‘My Mind Makes Noises.’ (Dirty Hit/Interscope)

It seems as though this album has been a long time coming. Over the course of the last two years, a number of tracks have been released by Pale Waves, indicating that something special might be afoot. Of course there are those who like to argue that the album as a concept is no longer relevant – but what a long-player from the quartet reveals is that they are capable of producing a comprehensive and cohesive work. Six tracks have been released from this album but in the age of streaming it feels like a gradual unveiling, rather than a whole lot of tracks you’ve already heard.

Formed by singer-guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran at university in Manchester, the quartet are completed by guitarist-keyboardist Hugh Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood. So where do Pale Waves fit in to the music scene of 2018? After all, guitar music is supposed to be in the doldrums. (Have we heard this before? Maybe it’s because I’m in my forties – but experience has shown these things to be cyclical rather than linear). Thing is, Pale Waves aren’t bothered about fitting in – and that’s one of their(many) strengths. They combine elements of alternative music (we’ll have to debate what that means another time, there’s only so many hundred words I’ll be writing for this review) going back several decades. Two months ago I saw them on a bill in London’s Hyde Park, headlined by The Cure, but also featuring Slowdive, Interpol, Goldfrapp And Editors. Pale Waves are younger than all those bands, but their appearance made – and makes – perfect sense, not only with their image but also with their sound.

The album opens with ‘Eighteen’ and ‘There’s A Honey.’ Whether you’ve heard these tracks before or not, these are perfect for kicking off proceedings, setting out the stall for what it is that Pale Waves are all about. That’s not to say that the rest of the album is simply carbon copies – for example, the wistful ‘Loveless Girl’ is followed by the rocky, and tempo-changing ‘Drive.’ 

The songs run the breadth of emotions- ‘She’ in particular is particularly charged and sees Baron-Gracie question whether her lover is cheating on her. It’s possibly a little clumsy lyrically, yet unquestionably heartfelt. Tracks like ‘Red’ and ‘Television Romance’ provide a counterpoint to this, yet the album finishes with ‘Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die)’ which is beautiful, and chilling in its acoustic simplicity.

So, file them under electropop, alternative, shoegaze…whatever. The half a dozen tracks we’ve been treated to were a true indication of how good this album is, and these are songs to be sung along to, moshed to, danced to. This is an album that could bring Britain’s divides musical tribes together. It’s not a leap of faith to imagine this band lighting up festivals themselves over the years to come. Sure, the lyrics might need a bit of polishing, but this is a strong debut from a band who understood the beauty of a POP song.

****

My Mind Makes Noises is out now on Dirty Hit/Interscope.

New from Lana Del Rey

At the age of forty-one, I guess I’m probably too old in many people’s eyes to care about the fact that Lana Del Rey’s brilliant song ‘LOVE’ which came out last year, wasn’t a proper hit. Sure there are other things to get worked up about – and I do – but it was brilliant. It was no.2 on the 17 Seconds Festive Fifty, which is what matters, right? 😉

This evening she has unveiled the first of two new tracks she will release this month; ‘Mariners Apartment Complex’ (another track, ‘Venice Bitch’ will be released next Tuesday). She is due to release a new album, and a book of poetry, in early 2019.

This is another brilliant example of Del Rey’s beguiling songwriting and voice. Take the time to listen…

 

 

Forthcoming from Miles Hunt

Thirty years ago this year, a band called The Wonderstuff made inroads across my eleven year old radar when they appeared in Smash Hits. They were uniquely witty and acerbic, and when I finally heard their music they were even better.

In 1994, they called it a day…before reforming several years later. On one occasion my brother was privileged to have frontman, the legendary Miles Hunt, perform ‘Size Of A Cow’ for him in his hotel room. Which is pretty darn special, really. The band still evoke so many happy memories for so many people. A few months ago friends were round for dinner, and I put on their third album Never Loved Elvis. Within seconds of the needle hitting the vinyl my friends responded ‘Love this album.’ So do I, still.

Mr. Hunt (we’re friends on facebook, and he seems much less frightening than I thought he might be), is shortly to release an album called The Custodian, on October 5.This features him doing acoustic versions of the songs he has written over thirty years or more. The version of ‘On The Ropes’, a top ten hit from 1993 is just amazing.

Oh, and I am getting to interview Miles Hunt this week. My week quite probably beats your year!

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

Disc One:

01. Speakeasy 02. It’s Not True… 03. Unbearable 04. Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More 05. Can’t Shape Up 06. Them, Big Oak Trees 07. The Size Of A Cow 08. Caught In My Shadow 09. Maybe 10. On The Ropes 11. Sing The Absurd 12. I Think I Must’ve Had Something Really Useful To Say 13. Room 512, All The News That’s Fit To Print 14. Fixer 15. Fits & Starts

Disc Two:

01. Everything Is Not Okay 02. Flapping On The Pier 03. Escape From Rubbish Island 04. Was I Meant To Be Sorry? 05. Tricks Of The Trade 06. We Hold Each Other Up 07. Falsified 08. Were You There? 09. Steady As You Go 10. Right Side Of The Turf 11. You Can’t Go Back (To Once Upon A Time) 12. Don’t You Ever 13. Good Deeds & Highs 14. The Sweetest Of Bitterest Ends 15. Custodian

The tour dates are as follows:

October
1st – Southampton, The 1865
2nd – Indie Daze, London
11th – Liverpool, Music Room
12th – Selby, Town Hall
25th – Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
26th – Leicester, The Y Theatre
27th – Sheffield, Greystones

November
5th – Hastings, Black Market VIP
6th – Swindon, Vic
9th – Stowmarket, John Peel Centre
10th Harpenden, Public Halls
17th – Barnstaple, Pilton Village Hall
18th – Shiiine On Weekender, Minehead
21st – Leeds Brundenell
22nd – Bury, The Met
23rd – Biddulph, Town Hall
24th – Bristol, Thunderbolt
27th – Carlisle, Old Fire Station
29th – Dumfries, CatStrand
30th – Irvine, Harbour Art Centre

December
1st – Newcastle, Cluny 2

Presenting…Frontperson

Ever played six degrees of Kevin Bacon? The aim of the parlour game is to see how many degrees you are removed from the legendary actor. My claim to fame (well, I have a couple) is that I used to work in Fopp in Edinburgh with Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon fame. The latest news from Mr. Hamilton (who is lovely, by the way) is that he has collaborated with the New Pornographers’ Kathryn Calder on a new act called Frontperson. They’ll be releasing their first album together, entitled Frontrunner, on September 21. This is gorgeous indie-folk meets chamber pop music.

So far, two tracks have been released from the record, with excellent videos to boot. First up (ok it’s been around for a bit, but I’ve been trying to get my writing head back on) is ‘Tick-Tock (Frontrunner).’ The video looks at a sports meet, but by showing it in reverse, it actually means that everyone ends equally, the same. This seems like a pretty good metaphor for life, if you ask me. The video was made by Rob Leickner and Ryan Sudds.

It’s a gorgeous song, and possibly even better is ‘Young Love’ (much newer, it’s only been out for five days). It’s about having a crush on someone (we’ve all been there, so it’s pretty universal). Directed by Lorenz Trobinger (you can read about it in more detail over on Stereogum), who also stars in it, it’s simple, straightforward, and yet surprisingly affective.

Frontrunner will be out on Ms. Calder’s own Oscar St. Records on September 21. Order it from their bandcamp here

The tracklisting is as follows:

1 “U.O.I”
2 “Long Night”
3 “Tick-Tock (Frontrunner)”
4 “He Follows Me”
5 “Young Love”
6 “Shorter Days”
7 “This City Is Mine”
8 “Postcards From A Posh Man”
9 “Insight”