My Mind Makes Noises is an ode to lust, heartbreak and loneliness. An open letter written by Pale Waves, pressed into a glass bottle and left to drift across affectionate synthy soundscapes.
From an outsiders view, My Mind Makes Noises can be seen as yet another 80s influenced, guitar driven pop record. Pale Waves have got themselves a signature sound, a sound they’ve cemented across the entire record, but behind the seductive guitar licks and minimalistic visuals (we’re talking single artwork) lies a story, one that Heather Baron-Gracie’s been desperate to get off her chest.
Familiar track Eighteen sets the theme for the record; the fascination of being head over heels in love–just like in the movies, a television romance–all from a teenage viewpoint. “I was eighteen when I met you, poured my heart out, spilt all my truth,” pleading from the first track, the rest of the album beautifully expresses the blossoming of a relationship, the fuzziness you feel right down to the derelict spiral of events that follow.
Feelings of regret take a toll on songs like Red, “baby, are we gonna make it this time? I always take hearts that shouldn’t be mine,” whilst moments of ‘what if?’ are visible on Came in Close – “is it really me that you want?” All these thoughts, they’re noises going through one’s mind (what an appropriate album title, eh?) each track is adding weight, adding noise to the already tumultuous sounds orbiting Heather’s head. Though we can’t apply the entire record’s narrative solely to Heather, there’s no telling that Ciara Doran (drums), Hugo Silvani (lead guitar) and Charlie Wood (bass) could be experiencing these feelings too.
Mental health – a pivotal topic. Noises is probably one of the best things Pale Waves have ever done to date. “I feel like I’m slowly losing myself, I’m afraid that I need help.” Buried deep within a collection of heartbreak numbers is Heather laying all her cards on the table, asking for guidance, reassurance, anything – something we can’t ignore.
This carries on into She, an already fan-favourite with a slot on the bands setlist for well over a year now. This one is, simply put, a song constructed up of questions that’ve been rotating in Heather’s mind ever since ties were cut. “Are you getting off with someone else?” / “Does she really taste as good as I do?” / “How can you just stop loving me in a matter of days?” It’s as if the reason to why things didn’t work out between her and her lover are unknown and she doesn’t want answers, she needs them.
On the lighter side of the record the band get playful on One More Time, linking back to the nostalgia heard previously in Eighteen. “I lie awake and think how we used to be, and you do all the little things that make me weak,” a break-up track yes, but this one’s a little more flirty. The ex has cracked their façade, exposing themselves to still caring, to being human. “Saw you through the window, crying on the stairs, I thought you didn’t care?” If a smirk and the roll of the eyes were audible you’d hear it right here – Heather’s got them sussed.
Lyrically I could go on forever, I couldn’t name you a favourite line. Pale Waves are clever in the construction and annunciation of their lyrics; you’re going to end up singing these songs the way Heather does and there’s nothing that can be done about it. “I drive fast so I can feel something,” is sticking with me right now, Drive in general summits an album full of only highs; think opening number to a stadium tour–pyrotechnics and all–pure euphoria.
There’s nothing sultry about these new songs, if anything it’s as innocent one can get by expressing emotion. Kissing is referenced all over, only furthering the wholesomeness of young love. These songs are anthemic, they’re polished and you’re not going to stop belting them anytime soon. These 14 tracks encapsulate the rush of first love, something so hard to put into words yet somehow the band hit the nail right on the head.
The record could’ve easily had ended on Black, concluding this scattering letter with a hopeful “you don’t think we’re worth it, but I do.” Alas, that glimmer of hope dwindles and we’re greeted by the only track on the record not signifying feelings of love, heartbreak or any of the above. Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like to Die) centres around family, the synths are locked away and we’re left with an acoustic berceuse. It’s a strange note to leave the record on, we’re so used to the Pale Waves formula that this lies unfamiliar, albeit the addition of Karl works so wonderfully that it’d be outrageous to end it any other way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
- One More Time
- Loveless Girl
Words: Jordan White