Manchester-based Indie-Pop band Pale Waves formed in 2014 and released their debut album, ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, to considerable acclaim in September 2018, reaching #8 in the UK Albums Chart and #1 in the UK Indie Chart.
The four-piece band comprises front woman HEATHER BARON-GRACIE [she/her], drummer CIARA DORAN [they/them], guitarist HUGO SILVANI [he/him] and bassist CHARLIE WOOD [he/him]. ‘Who Am I?’ was recorded primarily in Los Angeles alongside producer Rich Costey [Muse, Sigur Rós, Foo Fighters] before the Coronavirus lockdown forced the making of the album to go virtual, with Heather and Ciara remaining in LA and the rest of the band returning home to record their parts in their bedrooms.
On ‘Who Am I?’ Heather Baron-Gracie’s songwriting holds the last few years of her life up to the light, reflecting on her own growing pains – depression, distraction and feelings of darkness. But also, her experience of falling in love and emerging with a clarity and optimism – being more open about her sexuality and stepping forward as the sort of front woman she couldn’t see when she was growing up.
“For me, music and art is for people not to feel so alone and isolated; I want to be that person my fans look up to and find comfort in” – Heather Baron-Gracie
The title of opening track ‘Changes’ signposts the evolution of Pale Waves’ sound since their debut album: more conventional instrumentally, more confident lyrically. Standout tracks include ‘She’s My Religion’, a soaring love song with Heather’s exquisite vocals underpinned by the gloriously catchy instrumentals, and ‘You Don’t Own Me’, which bursts with energy and defiance.
By way of contrast, the largely acoustic ‘Odd Ones Out’ and ‘Who Am I?’ offer softer, more nuanced tracks with considerable emotional depth.
Pale Waves have delivered an excellent second album with ‘Who Am I?’. If you haven’t discovered them yet, there’s no better time than now.