Won’t smear your eyeliner
In their debut album, Manchester indie pop act Pale Waves have managed the incredible feat of summing up their record perfectly in its title. My Mind Makes Noises is the kind of simple, as straightforward as possible declaration of sound and intent as one could possibly make a title, a feeling that carries over into the music. The minds behind Pale Waves make quite a bit of noise across the LP’s 14 tracks, all of it a fusion of ambient synth and anthemic guitar that sounds just like all modern indie bands that end up on the Top 40 charts.
The connection between Pale Waves and fellow British pop stars The 1975 is so overtly in the music, it feels almost unnecessary to say that both bands share a label, or that The 1975 frontman Matt Healy co-produced My Mind Makes Noises. Pale Waves’ sound is enthusiastic and maintains an energy that The 1975 usually shirks in favor of a more soothing synth pop, but other than that it’s hard to consider Pale Waves anything more than a The 1975 clone with frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie in place of Healy. Pale Waves even apes the whole pseudo-Goth aesthetic that The 1975 made their brand, made up to look like fans of The Cure while making music derived from a wholly different ’80s subgenre. Baron-Gracie has an admirable Manchester swagger to her singing, carrying the perfect amount of angst while singing some of the most dreadfully straightforward emo lyrics to come out of a modern indie pop record. The majority of the tracks deal with the youthful whirlwind of love and lust that comes from boozy, poorly thought decisions, all expressed as directly and without subtlety as possible. If fellow Manchesterites The Smiths had removed all metaphors from their songs, if Morrissey had written “Sing me to sleep, sing me to sleep, I don’t want to be alive anymore, by go to sleep I mean I want to die,” it would land pretty close to where Pale Waves’ lyrics are: universal angst expressed as broadly and as simplistic as possible.
The album is not helped in that over the course of fourteen songs, Pale Waves never really deviate in structure sonically, always the synth intro into energetic yet simple guitar pops, leading to a lot of tracks just blending together, up until album closer “Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die),” an outlying acoustic track that deals with Baron-Gracie’s grief over the loss of her brother, which comes too late to break up the sameness of the whole record. It is a shame because there are genuinely exciting parts spread across this album, but spread much too thin to actually produce any standout songs. Pale Waves creates the kind of music that’s bound to attract a legion of fans in matching black eyeliner who can sing along to every song. My Mind Makes Noises is prime fodder for angsty teens to gobble up and feel validated, but everyone who has already graduated high school might want to look elsewhere.