Live and love freely
English indie pop-rock quartet Pale Waves are out with their second album, Who am I?. It is a collection that tackles a few themes, all relating to one another and achieving harmony. The band’s LGBTQ+ identifying members, Heather Baron-Gracie and Ciara Doran, sought to accomplish an anthem describing loving who you love without fear or consideration of what others think. Baron-Gracie’s personal struggles to better herself are also embodied within the music, as well as a general theme of love.
The album begins, appropriately, with Radio 1’s Hottest Track in the World, “Change.” This piece immediately grabs the listener’s attention with its resemblance to a punchy 2000s track that has upbeat guitar riffs, digging drum beats and gleaming synths. The nostalgia of this tune is present across most of the alum, as the band has said to take inspiration from classic artists such as Avril Lavigne, The Cranberries and The Cure. Here to illustrate this are tracks “Easy,” “Fall to Pieces,” “She’s My Religion,” “Run To” and “I Just Needed You.” Baron-Gracie sweetly sings of a love that feels easy, one she can’t live without. She describes a world that teaches you to strive for material happiness, but that hers comes from the person she loves. These pieces are lyrically familiar, but there is something honest and original about the way they are delivered.
Baron-Gracie embraces her LGBTQ+ love story in “Odd Ones Out,” an instrumentally diverse piece that keeps the listener on the edge of their seat. “Let’s be the odd ones out this time,” she sings proudly, “we’re only human.” “You Don’t Own Me” is an act of vengeance to those with judging words. The tune articulates that what those who scorn are to be ignored, that what they think or believe does not matter. Everyone is free to love who they love.
“Who Am I” is a soft and appropriate concluding piece, as it holds the esteem of sharing a name with the album’s title. “Who am I, I need a sign,” Baron-Gracie sings, upon minimal instrumentals, conveying the urgency she has to find and better herself. This intimate piece takes on the personal privations that the lead singer faces and is her attempt at investigating them.
Baron-Gracie’s personal journey is one that taught her many valuable lessons that she has been able to transform into art and share with the world. Those who face similar struggles to hers can find peace and acceptance in Who am I?, as well as a voice that tells them that they are not alone.