Black lipstick and fishnet leggings- not the typical exterior you would expect from band Pale Waves’ girly, “bubble-gum” pop. Pale Waves is yet another of Dirty Hit Records’ rising stars that is suddenly redefining what we call “pop”. Like many other artists, including collaborators, the 1975, this new breed is no longer “weak” or “mainstream”, but, as Pale Waves’ lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie puts it, “music that makes you feel something”.
Shuffling Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist, I first came into contact with the Pale Waves and their addictive sound. “There’s A Honey” blared, while on my way to get some after school coffee, and I felt like I was in an early 2000’s rom-com. I looked down at my phone screen to see an all black album cover… seemed ironic for such a colorful, “happy” song.
But Pale Waves is not habitual in any way. Their non-conformist, unconventional nature has established them to be one of pop’s true revolutionaries.
Fresh, funky guitar, synth beats, and catchy melodies are pleasing, however there’s more to the Pale Waves’ “feel good grooves” than meets the ears. Listen in close and you might just feel a slight stomach drop or a trip back to the not so pleasing past.
“I will give you my body, but am I sure that you want me? Am I sure that you want me?”
– There’s a Honey // Pale Waves
This is what lead singer, Heather, is pouring out in single “There’s a Honey”, while I am ignorantly and blissfully ignoring the lyrics, while dancing around my room at 1 AM. “but am I sure that you want me? Am I sure that you want me?”… rip my heart out, please?
For what seems like eternity, “pop” music has carried the poor rep. of being shallow, silly, and yet to be taken seriously. Dirty Hit Records’ artists’, Pale Waves, Japanese House, and the 1975 are completely changing that. One single at a time, they’re proving that pop has depth.
Indie Success; The 1975
“So love me, if that’s what you wanna do…” 1975’s leading man Matty screams as the no-so-typical “boy band” makes yet another statement with their chart topping, 2nd debut album, “I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it”.
The album’s opening track is a bop. Take a listen and just try not to dance, however, there’s more to this fresh groove than a “good time” tune. “Love me” analyzes the not so glamorous nature of stardom and the desperate cry for attention experienced by those seeking their time in the limelight, and the corruption that comes to those with fame.
“You look famous, let’s be friends and portray we possess something important
And do the things we like, meaning, We’ve just come to represent
A decline in the standards are what we accept”
– Love me// The 1975
Matty Healy has been praised for his elevated lyrics before, and rightfully so. “The Sound” is yet another of the band’s successful hits with guitar riffs and pulsing electronic beats, and per usual, Matty doesn’t refrain to display his profound set of elaborate vocabulary.
“It’s not about reciprocation it’s just all about me
A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe
There’s so much skin to see
A simple Epicurean Philosophy.”
– The Sound // The 1975
“A simple Epicurean Philosophy”… this is not the Spice Girls, One Direction kind of lyrics we are used to seeing. This is intellectual, meaningful, and deep.
This is indie pop.
Talent; Deciphering the facts
As a musician, I always aim to celebrate talent, however, this does not mean that all artists I can recognize as talented are found on my personal playlist or of whom I enjoy listening to leisurely. A musician can be skilled, but not of my personal liking. This distinction between recognition and commendation is a blurred, often non-existent line for the average listener- a line I long to define.
Pale Waves and The 1975 have been met with controversy and often, as much disapproval as praise. Vibe to it or not, however, when analyzing The 1975’s beautifully phrased, high-level lyrics, complex melodies, individualistic aesthetic and brand, and over-all stunning showmanship, it’s difficult and almost impossible, to argue that extreme talent is not being fostered within such band.
You may have not appreciated, nor enjoyed, pop music in the past, but pop has been continuously changing and evolving, so as you have. Maybe, it’s time to revisit the independent pop of 2017. Perhaps, you’ll find more than just a catchy tune but “music that makes you feel something.”