Release Date: Feb 12, 2021
Record label: Dirty Hit
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop
With influences including early '00s icons like Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch, as well as the most obvious comparison Avril Lavigne -- who frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie has been repeatedly citing as a massive inspiration for this record -- the Manchester quartet's new sound is well executed and joyously expressive, but offers little unique. Third single "Easy" is a clear highlight and the biggest nod to their past work: a typically massive chorus intensified by pounding synths and Baron-Gracie's instantly recognisable, aggressively lilted vocals. "Fall to Pieces" is the band's best power ballad to date, "You Don't Own Me" is a perfect pop-punk banger, and the band nurtures their softer side with touching, tender cuts like "Wish U Were Here" and "I Just Needed You" -- rarely do the tracks run the risk of sounding too similar to each other.
When Pale Waves released debut 'My Mind Makes Noises' under the wing of label-mates The 1975 three years ago, the Manchester bunch got a start most bands would kill for. Come album two, come the onus being less on the company they keep and solely on what the foursome - or more specifically, leader Heather Baron-Gracie - has to say. Where 'My Mind Makes Noises' borrowed from '80s new-wave and synth-pop, 'Who Am I?' has a sonic palette cherrypicked from the most nostalgic elements of '00s pop-rock.
With their steely, eyelinered gaze and leather jackets, Pale Waves look like the kind of band that knows how it wants to be seen. Though their output is fairly new--they've released two albums, 2018's My Mind Makes Noises and their latest, Who Am I?--they've been around for the better half of a decade, founded in 2014 when vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran met at university in Manchester. They gained international attention three years later, when the 1975 frontman Matty Healy took the band under his wing, signing them to his label, Dirty Hit, directing a music video, and occasionally serving as producer.