Post Punk | Indie Rock
“Who Am I?” is the sophomore studio album from Manchester-based post punk outfit Pale Waves, a band who, for one reason or another, I have admittedly glossed over, up until this point. But much like I have with a few artists already this year, I decided that 2021 was a good enough reason for me to give this album a shot. That motivation, along with a promo video for the album that I managed to stumble across, I suddenly felt pretty invested in giving “Who Am I?” a good go.
From the moment I came across the album cover for “Who Am I?”, I had a pretty strong preemptive feeling regarding what this album would sound like aesthetically. My hope was that it would really bring that warm and colourful rock sound that would feel reminiscent of an artist such as Avril Lavigne, and thus giving a highly nostalgic sense.
Thankfully, this album seemed to convey exactly that. But further on from that base quality, Pale Waves managed to find the perfect balance of nostalgia and a more current, accessible feel. The latter is primarily made possible thanks to the album’s primary conceptual topics of identity, self-acceptance, and growing up as a different individual in a small town.
Furthermore, this made the album really stick out to me as one that feels incredibly wholesome and sweet; all in all just a very lovely and enjoyable listen. Being someone who is slowly and steadily embracing my true self day-by-day, I felt that I was one of many people that “Who Am I?” must’ve connected with.
On the flip-side, I have seen this album being criticised for not moving much past giving listeners the base fundamentals. And in my mind, this roughly translates to the possibility that this album may share too many similarities with their debut. But as somebody who has been introduced to the sound of Pale Waves through this album, I don’t feel so restrained, and thus can either confirm or deny that critical claim.
What I can say with confidence, however, is that “Who Am I?” was definitely enjoyed by myself, and it’s empowering sentiment definitely had a successful effect on me. And while there were a few shallow-sounding tracks scattered across this album, the majority of them felt like engaging, atmospheric, and festival-ready anthems. As a result, I find myself imagining what a lot of this albums highlights would sound like live, which always feels deserving of bonus points.
Besides which, I feel that Pale Waves are definitely in a safe spot to get away with re-hashing their familiar aesthetic, seen as this is only their sophomore album. However, I would agree that I would love to see what Pale Waves might be capable of when they push the experimental boat out, in the case of future instalments.
Favourite Tracks: She’s My Religion | Easy | You Don’t Own Me
Least Favourite Track: Wish U Were Here
Enjoyment: 9/10 | Memorability: 8/10 | Atmosphere: 8/10
Uniqueness: 6/10 | Satisfaction: 7/10 | Narrative: 9/10