Album Review: Manchester UK’s Pale Waves’ drop a shimmery sophomore LP, “Who Am I?”
Manchester UK-based Pale Waves’ sophomore LP, “Who Am I?” is a dizzying 33-minute triumph of a record. And I’m here for every second of it. An album with words mostly scrawled and sang by vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie, the record is non-stop self-empowerment drizzled in shimmering notes and huge guitar riffs. It screams a love letter to be yourself, to love who you want to love. It’s sure to spur huge alt radio anthems for the band but also serves some beautifully slowed down tracks like Odd Ones Out and the album-closing title track, Who Am I?
The coming of age record for the band is something that is sure to resonate so strongly, especially in these wild times we find ourselves in. It ranges from more power-pop ballad driven moments like the Halsey “Colors” era reminiscent Wish You Were Here. With a vibe that reminds me of the lines in Halsey’s “Colors” about how she was red and he was blue, there is a beautiful line from Baron-Gracie with, “You saw the only me I knew, there were no clouds in the sky that were blue, and it was just the moment, the moment I knew”. It’s one of my standouts on the album and came in strong as a break up of the straight shimmery pop anthems that throughout the album were covering up some of the darkest, most genuine lyrics and moments in the album.
From the title track Change, which is absolutely the radio jam anthem I want and hope it to be, the album is a wild rollercoaster ride throughout the whole record and the album I think we truly need in these times. It screams as an atypical love letter to being your true self. Be it loving someone like they’re a drug with She’s My Religion to one of my favorite tracks on the record, You Don’t Own Me. You Don’t Own Me is the anthem for us to live our own lives, and never listen to how people try to tell us we should act. The whole record brings artists like Paramore and even some old school Avril Lavigne to mind in a blend of tunes and topics that every listener is sure to latch on to.
The record in whole is the ultimate self-empowerment record and one that is sure to please every fan, both old and new. It is a power-pop anthem filled record that ends on a gorgeously slowed down seemingly piano-driven piece that is the title track, Who Am I?, with painstakingly perfect lyrics like “What am I supposed to say when you tell me I’m gonna be okay” and “Who am I, I need a sign, does anybody know?” It is the perfect conclusion to a perfectly curated sophomore release from a band that is poised for greatness. 2021 will hopefully bring back the live performances we sorely miss and surely Pale Waves will come back to our stages with a fiery passion. For now, let this album be some pretty great therapy.