Mancunian electro-pop ensemble Pale Waves caused more than a ripple across British music waters when they burst onto the scene with their 2018 debut, My Mind Makes Noises. Indie fans across the land fell in love with the band and their electro/goth/pop sound and they were soon a staple on festival bills (remember those?) as well as selling out shows on the back of the album. Three years later and the group is back with Who Am I?, the long-awaited follow-up.

Opening with recent single “Change,” the Manchester quartet kicks things off with a delicious slice of teen angst pop. Sounding like ‘90s Avril Lavigne jamming with Alanis Morrisette, Pale Waves in 2021 are all about that ‘90s alt-pop sound. However, underneath all that bounce and glittery pop-rock, it’s Heather Baron-Gracie’s angst-laced lyrics that hook you into this album. Wrestling amongst this pristine music, Baron-Gracie is the superstar of the show but you know it’s a title she probably doesn’t want to hold. As her experiences play out through songs like the sugar-coated “Wish U Were Here,” the gritty, soon to be teen anthem “You Don’t Own Me,” and the radio-friendly “I Just Needed You,” you can almost hear Baron-Gracie’s words being cried along to in teenage bedrooms across the country.

You see, every generation needs a voice, and in 2021, Pale Waves and, in particular, Baron-Gracie provide that voice. The album touches on everything from sexuality to love to relationships to life, all subjects playing out in the lives of every single one of their fans. As I said, they may not want to be put on that pedestal by this worshipping crowd but, by the time the emotional title track hits home with the vocalist singing “Where am I supposed to go? When I feel like I’ve got nowhere to go. How am I supposed to cope? When I feel like I’m losing every hope,” they’ll have that troubled teenage audience absolutely hooked.

A beautifully tense conclusion to the record, while not taking anything away from the previous ten tunes, the title track is on another level when it comes to heart-wrenching emotion. While the rest of the album may be filled with easy to digest, easy to take in slices of goth-pop, the piano-filled finale is utterly spellbinding. Now, there is no doubting that those teenage years are some of the most challenging you’ll ever face however, with Who Am I? queued up on your playlist, knowing that a band like Pale Waves have got your back, will surely make them just that bit easier to navigate.

Who Am I? Track Listing:

1. Change
2. Fall To Pieces
3. She’s My Religion
4. Easy
5. Wish U Were Here
6. Tomorrow
7. You Don’t Own Me
8. I Just Needed You
9. Odd Ones Out
10. Run To
11. Who Am I?

Run Time: 33:44
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Record Label: Dirty Hit

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.