Pale Waves, My Mind Makes Noises album review: An awful lot of mimicry

On their debut album, Pale Waves sound too close to their label mates The 1975, while Paul Weller offers an interesting, if not transcendent, new addition to his canon

Roisin O'Connor,Christopher Hooton
Friday 14 September 2018 08:09
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Pale Waves
Pale Waves

Pale Waves, My Mind Makes Noises

★★☆☆☆

On their debut album My Mind Makes Noises, Pale Waves show flashes of potential but an awful lot of mimicry.

A pop act masquerading as goths, the quartet have benefited and then suffered from a close relationship with label mates The 1975.

Each of My Mind Make Noises’ 14 tracks follows the same format: a sprawling opening with a light smattering of synths, before a generically anthemic guitar kicks in and builds to a pivotal key change, on a chorus often consisting of just one or two lines. It’s pure 1975.

“There’s a Honey” uses the exact same vocal hook as “Eighteen” (both sounding a lot like Zedd’s track “Clarity” ft Foxes) and frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie has a habit of recycling lyrics that grapple with vague existential angst, not to mention vocals that land more off-key than on.

Pale Waves are the victims of a music industry desperate to assert “the next big thing” in a climate where fans are more about discovery than having something forced down their throats. It’s fine to be influenced by one particular band, but they need to find their own voice or risk being known as little more than The 1975’s pale imitators. Roisin O’Connor

Paul Weller, True Meanings

Weller performing at Glastonbury

★★★☆☆

Most artists with 13 albums under their belt (not to mention 12 with previous bands) would be tempted to slow down. Not Paul Weller. Since 1992, the former Jam frontman has released an album at least once every three years.

True Meanings, his 14th, sees him experiment fully with orchestral elements for the first time. LP opener “The Soul Searchers” starts with Weller picking out familiar folk melodies on an acoustic guitar, but is soon decorated by dramatic, trilling strings, an intricate, finger-tapped guitar solo and a punchy Hammond organ breakdown (played by The Zombies’ Rod Argent).

“I’m never, ever too proud to give a song over to someone else, to see what they might be able to bring to it,” Weller said of his collaborative approach to songwriting. It’s a noble mantra, and makes for a record with some rich layers and embellishments, but you sense that the excess of outside influence might be making up for something.

“Bowie”, for instance, appears to be a wistful, heartfelt and personal tribute to a musical hero, but it turns out its lyrics – as is the case with three other songs – were farmed out to another songwriter. Still, True Meanings is an interesting, if not transcendent, addition to the Weller canon. Christopher Hooton​

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