Lizzo's latest is a wonderful and high-spirited ode to loving yourself that exhibits an artist who defies genre, Gabrielle Taylor-Dowson reviewsWritten by Gabrielle Taylor-Dowson on 22nd May 2019
Live Review: The 1975 & Pale Waves
Dirty Hit signees The 1975 and Pale Waves bring their beautifully unique take on pop to Arena Birmingham, Nina Avitabile reviews
Few bands command such a presence in the current pop zeitgeist than that of The 1975. Like them or loathe them (with them often referring directly to their illustrious front man Matty), we can all agree that The 1975 are one of the most exciting and dynamic bands of today. What now constitutes as ‘pop’ is mostly bereft of even the slightest amount of risk-taking. Enter a band with what seems to be limitless ambition, one that is planning to release another album barely three months after releasing a critically acclaimed third record - one that made Pitchfork’s Best New Music and was lauded by NME as a ‘masterpiece’, one that seems unafraid to experiment, at least partially, with risk-taking.
“They are not only an endlessly exciting and engaging live act with an enigmatic frontman, but one that is at the height of their powers
To reinforce this answer, we must first begin, as mentioned, with the bands charismatic front man Matty Healy. On the 23rd, it was refreshing and endearing to experience pop music that is so immediate and important to the thousands of young starstruck fans. The band succeeded in closing the gap between fan and artist, playing songs that, if appealing to you, will connect with every word. This can, at times, cause more than a little cringing in the obviously parent-heavy adult portion of the audience, but this was overcome by the sheer entertainment on offer here. For all the grandiose statements this band really know how to write a chorus, and by the end it was hard to imagine even the most conservative parents not tapping their feet to 'The Sound'.
“It was hard not to feel entertained by a band that, for better or worse, expend so much energy crafting an experience that, for those who connect with it, can be transcendental
Overall the band do a good job of captivating the audience and succeeded in delivering interesting pop singles that consider modern life in the age of the internet. In particular, the familiar themes of millennial angst were further explored in 'I Like America and America Likes Me' (named after an interesting piece of performance art by Joseph Beuys). The song contains various layers of auto tune, and Matty can be heard imploring the aforementioned generation (in which they have such a strong following) to ‘Say Something’, and declaring that ‘Kids don’t want guns, they want Supreme.’ It is an interesting message that sits within the instrumental, and is a great representation of the allure of the band as a whole. That being the arresting, 80s-referencing rhythms, melodies, gorgeous production and crucially, intelligent lyrics that say something. This is important especially because there isn’t any other band on there scale doing this at the moment. When leaving the gig, it was hard not to feel entertained and indeed loved by a band that, for better or worse, expend so much energy crafting an experience that, for those who connect with it, can be transcendental.
“Comparisons to Cyndi Lauper, as well as the classic Cranberries track ‘Dreams’, were drawn when listening to Pale Waves' set
This is not to say that this is a band without promise. Comparisons to Cyndi Lauper, as well as the classic Cranberries track ‘Dreams’, were drawn when listening to their set, and the songs sounded undeniably exciting. More importantly, Heather Baron-Gracie commanded a real presence on the stage; an artist that has the true potential to elevate a woman-fronted pop band like hers to the levels of success enjoyed by the headline act. If they can find a way to progress their sound in a new and alternative direction, without leaning too much on the sounds of their label-mates, Pales Waves have the serious potential to carve out a lane of their own in the current state of alt-pop.