Made up of 13 remarkable pop-punk anthems, Pale Waves’ latest release, Unwanted, powerfully answers the question asked by their previous album titled Who am I?
Rock princess and Gen-Z icon Heather Baron-Gracie formed Pale Waves in Manchester, with drummer Ciara Doran, guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood. Since their classically dreamy 2018 EP, ALL THE THINGS I NEVER SAID, the artists have accumulated a vast and loyal fanbase, over 1 million monthly Spotify listeners, countless festival appearances and won NME’s Under the Radar award. This year the band make a seamless transition from heavenly synth-pop to glamorous pop-punk, exploring a more alternative sound and darker themes in the unapologetic record, Unwanted.
Immediately hooked with Heather Baron-Gracie’s compelling declaration of ‘You called it love but it never had a feeling’, opening track Lies combines an old-school punk essence with the band’s fresh, unapologetic tone. A gripping bass riff accompanies a catchy melody, gorgeously decorated with vocal embellishments from Baron-Gracie. This vengeful post-break up anthem empowers listeners; lyrics reflect on the relationship and announce ‘I know I’m better than that’.
Title track ‘Unwanted’ brilliantly oozes an early 2000s pop-punk aesthetic, with grungy rhythm guitar and heavy drums from Doran. What’s notable here is, despite the power of the number, the musically broken down bridge reveals the heartache behind the lyrics, as Baron-Gracie’s vocals stand alone; “You’re so good yeah you’re so good, at making me feel like nothing. Making me feel unwanted.” The energy then immediately returns as the lyrics perfectly switch to “You’re no good yeah you’re no good” in the same melody, ultimately placing the blame elsewhere, and perfectly demonstrating how music can be used as a tool to regain your strength.
The Hard Way follows. Utterly stunning in its fusion of acoustic guitar and gentle, gothic vocals, harmonies dance throughout the first half of the track. It wouldn’t be a Pale Waves hit however, without a musical build up into a monumental final chorus, guaranteed to enthral a live audience.
Jealousy truly packs a punch with its gorgeously grungy tone and hearty vocals; labelled by BBC Radio One as their Hottest Record Of The Week back in June. The juxtaposition between the more edgy verses to the major chorus allows for a lyrical exploration of both the joy, and bitterness within a relationship.
The sixth track of the album, Clean, hosts raw and romantic imagery which metaphorically paints a new romance as something that is uncontrollably addictive, and Baron-Gracie relishes this feeling. Declaring “You’re the one drug that I don’t want to get clean from”- the performer curates a glorious pop-punk love song.
You’re So Vein is an ultimate headbanger and the underdog of the album. A combination of classic rock guitar and avenging spoken-word style verses escort us into an immense chorus. We are then met with the anthem Act My Age. A nostalgic rock-infused reflection that asks ‘Where did all the time go?’ whilst the artist dreams of an infinite youth.
Released August 12th via Dirty Hit, this compelling record has rapidly racked up streams and support from both their die-hard fans, and new listeners relishing this refreshingly rock-infused sound. Find tickets to their November tour below to see this new era of Pale Waves performed live:
Article By Catherine Anderson