Manchester’s great goth hopes may paint it black, but there’s a blindingly brilliant sheen to their debut EP. The best new band in the country? They are so much more than that. Sam Lambeth reviews.
It’s winter 2016. A black-clad band with hair and aesthetic to match are warming up in a tiny sweatbox in Birmingham. The crowd is sold-out but what they see that night is not just a gig – it is a religious experience. A concoction of glitz and goth, with pounding dancefloor fillers tinged with teenage sadness and adolescent longing, the sound reverberates the room and no one leaves without falling under the group’s spell. That band was Pale Waves, and two years on they have garnered deserved acclaim.
Under the guidance of Matty Healy, easily the finest and most gifted provocateur the indie music world has produced for over a decade (sorry, Alex Turner), Pale Waves are more like an avalanche on ‘All The Things I Never Said’. It’s bookended by ‘New Year’s Eve’ and ‘Heavenly’, two torrid slices of shimmering dance-tinged rock that should be on the soundtrack of every nightclub in the country. Heather Baron-Gracie’s detached presence belies a voice that oozes emotion, from the thunderous delivery of The Tide to the aching desire of My Obsession.
Although the tracks on …I Never Said have been around for a while, they sound fresh and purposeful. A layer of gloss gives their gothic shtick radio-friendly appeal, pushing the pop gorgeousness of Television Romance into the stratosphere. Where they could go from here is frightening, but it took The Cure several albums to produce songs that marry morbid spinsterdom with poppy hooks. Pale Waves have done it in one EP.
“You’ll always be my favourite obsession,” Baron-Gracie coos. The feeling is more than mutual.