Shortlisted for the BBC Sound Of 2018 poll, the Manchester dream pop act Pale Waves have endured a steady, but notable rise into relevance since forming in 2014. The quartet - vocalist/guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie, bassist Charlie Wood, guitarist Hugo Silvani and drummer Ciara Doran - have been tipped as of one of Britain's most promising bands, flourishing under the guidance of Jamie Oborne and his label Dirty Hit. Their goth pop music style/aesthetic and perceived similarities to label-mates The 1975 have had its share of fans and critics alike: but Pale Waves have clear ambition to be much more than just a sidekick to other pop sensations, and that is apparent on their upcoming debut album - entitled My Mind Makes Noises.
Rather interestingly, none of the cuts from their excellent All The Things I Never Said EP - which came out earlier this year - have made it to the final tracklisting, in order to give space to more unreleased material. Older fans will be pleased to know however, that more fine-tuned versions of singles 'There's A Honey' and 'Television Romance' do make the cut.
The songwriting abilities of Heather Baron-Gracie and Ciara Doran have matured well, as the band has grown from obscurity into playing numerous sold-out tours and obtaining a dedicated fanbase, and it shows from 'Eighteen' right until the dark acoustic closer 'Karl (I Wonder What It's Like to Die)'. Songs such as 'Loveless Girl' and 'Noises' display the Pale Waves formula with almost callous honesty: razor-like synths and electronics cut through the guitar-driven melodicism, whilst Baron-Gracie's lyrics deal with themes of anxiety and love with an openness not seen from many. There's more virtuosic command of their instruments than you'd really expect for a mainstream pop record, moments where the elements and influences at play mesh wonderfully into striking a chord with the listener.
As far as album highlights go, penultimate track 'Black' (or 'You Don't Love Us Anymore', as it was previously known) is a meteoric example. A potential future soundtrack to a hypothetical The Breakfast Club remake, the song exemplifies everything Pale Waves do right: anthemic songwriting, with angsty, intense lyricism and a powerful chorus to boot. It isn't just the best song on the album, it's one of the best tracks I've heard this year.
Talking about the record to Music Week back in January, Baron-Gracie stated that she couldn't wait to show ''the other side of Pale Waves, which is super dark and vulnerable''. The aforementioned 'Karl' is a poignant example - her lament of ''I wonder what it's like to die'' reverberates in the sonic abyss, ending the record on a surprisingly bleak note.
Some will dismiss Pale Waves as yet another washed-up indie act trying to hark back to the 80s for the benefit of a diluted millennial consumer, or revert to the more common 'The 1975 clone' trope. My Mind Makes Noises makes a lot of steps to correct such thinking. in all honesty, The 1975's upcoming third album might be only second-best in the 'Best Dirty Hit Album 2018' sweepstakes.
In support of My Mind Makes Noises, Pale Waves will be embarking on their biggest headline tour of the UK and Ireland to date, including dates at Glasgow's SWG3 on September 21st, and London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on September 27th. Pale Waves also have announced a series of intimate in-store performances and signing opportunities to promote the album.
Pale Waves - My Mind Makes Noises is out on September 14th via Dirty Hit.