‘My Mind Makes Noises’ is the debut from the Manchester four-piece Pale Waves, whose goth-punk appearance turns out to be completely at odds with the massively unoriginal and highly commercialised sound of their music. Bright, rippling synths launch the Avril Lavigne-meets-Fleetwood Mac opener ‘Eighteen’, which with its squeaky clean vocals and the occasional hint of autotune, is typical of this record. ‘There’s A Honey’ delivers an unimaginative, over-used chord sequence on top of 80s pop flavours, a bit like Belinda Carlisle with New Order guitars. Like every other track on this flaccid offering, ‘Noises’ brings to mind American teen pop rather than the sound of a Manchester band who dress like goths, while upbeat vibes and glistening keys can’t rescue ‘Came In Close’ from grating blandness.
The use of vocal cut-ups on Loveless Girl is probably the most interesting thing about the lightweight music it produces. Every track begins with dreamy synths before electronic drums and melodic rock riffs enter along with the same style of one-dimensional vocal every time. Therefore I can’t really find much to say about Drive that I couldn’t say about all the other songs here. Variety is clearly not a strong point for this lot.
We get the drippy, slushy ballad When Did I Lose It All, and the snoozefest She. Lyrically, the jealous lover reeling from infidelity is another well-trodden path and one that Pale Waves should’ve avoided. Lines like “Are you getting off with someone else?” and (cringe) “You’re breaking my heart babe” shows that they’re not likely to ever rank alongside Mark E Smith or Morrissey in terms of great Northern songwriters. One More Time and its middle of the road FM rock wouldn’t sound too unbearable on its own, just tiresome when heard alongside the rest of this very generic album. Songs like Television Romance, suggest that their one musical setting is turned firmly to polished, commercial pop with a rock twist. They push that same chord sequence yet again on Red, which does so little to inspire that its slightly EDM chorus sounds relatively innovative compared to the rest of it.
Kiss is probably the album’s best track, thanks to the very Cure-like guitars during the intro, while Black has some nice electronics in places. The emotional topics on the acoustic Karl are touching yet addressed clumsily, reading like something from a teen journal. If that’s your sort of thing, have a listen and make your own mind up. If it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, avoid.
So clean and sanitized that immediately afterwards I feel the need to get some raw, edgy filth in my ears just so my brain doesn’t continue feeling numb. Coasting aimlessly right from the very first minute, it’s an album that is indeed pale but fails to make any waves at all.