Track Review: You Don’t Own Me // Pale Waves

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Adding fuel to the fire of anticipation of their second LP Who Am I (out 12 February), Pale Waves have released the record’s third single ‘You Don’t Own Me’. A fervent, guitar-driven cut, in just over three minutes the Mancunian quartet propel a powerful manifesto of female empowerment.

Pale Waves are Heather Baron-Gracie (vocals), Ciara Doran (drums), Hugo Silvani (guitars) and Charlie Wood (bass). Frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie said: “‘You Don’t Own Me’ is a song for women about what it’s like to be a woman in this world. How society depicts, judges and criticises women on a daily basis… I wanted to represent my own experiences and also…say a big fuck you to everyone that plays by these fake delusional rules that women and gender need to fit inside a specific box.”

The first verse’s lyrics cast out misogynistic propaganda such as “a pretty face like yours / Should really learn to smile more”, with Baron-Gracie singing in a low, gritty tone. Overdriven bass from Charlie Wood and Ciara Doran’s bass drum thumps add to the sarcastic cause. Then when chorus chimes in, we hear an emphatic repetition of the song’s title and its motto; the core message of the track emanates clearly that women should do whatever they want to, without the judgement of male peers. A more positive, power-pop sound complements this as the entire collective comes together to air a crisp four-chord progression. 

What’s most impressive about the track, though, is its constant unpredictability. The B-section, still remaining within the chorus’ key structure, allows more of the track’s manifesto to come across along a different vocal riff, its secret as yet veiled. Indeed, the band momentarily fool our ears; they revert back to the verse’s crunchy basslines—at this point, we might expect a second verse—but instead, through the addition of Hugo Silvani’s shiny guitar arpeggios, we are led back to an even more explosive second chorus. Everything becomes even slicker as their cohesion shines through.

Upon arrival at the song’s climax, the B-section is revitalised in syncopated harmony with the chorus; it is as if they are conversing. Then, the track ends in a well-executed sole vocal fade out. It’s excellent pop-rock songwriting, showing how far the band have progressed from their first album. ‘You Don’t Own Me’ will get you out of your lockdown malaise up onto your bedroom floor. 

Pale Waves’ second album, Who Am I?, is released on 12 February via Dirty Hit and is available to pre-order here

Words by Matthew Prudham


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