Pale Waves


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Despite its inconsistencies, Unwanted is an improvement over its predecesor in nearly every way - and it's a whole lot of fun too!

Pale Waves has been a band lacking a true identity for a long time now. Their debut album, while still a pleasant listen, is a bit all over the place and draws influence from many other indie pop bands that were successful at the time. They followed up their debut with an album that was very heavily influenced by Avril Lavigne's early work but also featured an abundance of unnecessary ballads and half-baked ideas. With Unwanted, Pale Waves have finally hit the sweet spot - though they still wear their Avril Lavigne influence on their sleeve, they cranked up the catchiness and energy to eleven, which is what they've always needed.

Let's get one thing out of the way: if you're seeking intelligent, thoughtful songwriting or really anything more than just a simple, catchy pop-rock album, you're not going to find it here. Some will find the recurring lyrical themes of youthful relationship drama to be immature and/or exhausting, but if you go into this album with a less critical mindset, there's actually a lot to enjoy. Pale Waves have always been capable of creating catchy hooks and melodies, and they've refined that skill even more with this release. Songs like "Jealousy," "Clean," and "So Sick (Of Missing You)" are massive earworms, and it's difficult to focus on picking apart the lyrics of these tracks when you have their choruses stuck in your head on a continuous loop.

To be perfectly fair, there are a few songs that would've been better left on the cutting room floor. "Without You" is a ballad that just doesn't add anything noteworthy to the listening experience, and "You're So Vain" is far too disjointed and features what is probably the worst and most boring chorus on the album. Unwanted is also very front-loaded - the first six songs are ones I would consider to be subjectively great, but the quality sputters and drops off somewhere around the midway point. Thankfully for Pale Waves, they were at least able to stick the landing and end the album on a high note.

Heather Baron-Gracie does a wonderful job of providing the charisma and energy that this album needed to be a success. She's also more than capable of delivering passionate and emotional performances on songs like "The Hard Way," and "Numb." The former is a surprisingly thoughtful and sorrowful reflection on losing a loved one to mental illness. Rather than just being another run-of-the-mill ballad though, the song picks up energy about two thirds of the way through and ends with a powerful and upbeat pop-punk finish. It was a risky tonal shift for Pale Waves to try and pull off, but the risk ultimately paid off and the song ended up being one of the album's highlights.

Overall, Unwanted doesn't push the envelope or introduce anything new to the table - but that's okay. Pale Waves accomplished exactly what they set out to do, which was to make bunch of songs that are easy to listen to and will often get stuck in your head. It's not for everybody, but Unwanted is more than deserving of being granted the status of "guilty pleasure" for a multitude of reasons. If you feel like turning your mind off and having 40 minutes of fun, give Unwanted a chance. You likely won't be disappointed.

HIGHLIGHTS - The Hard Way, Jealousy, Clean, So Sick (Of Missing You)
LOWLIGHTS - You're So Vain, Without You

FINAL SCORE - 3.7 out of 5

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user ratings (24)

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 30th 2022


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It may not be 2023 yet, but my new year's resolution is to get back into review writing. I think my motivation took a hit when I first started a few years back and realized I wasn't quite as skilled as I thought I was - but the only way to improve is to keep practicing! As always, feedback is more than welcome.

Rolling Girl
December 30th 2022


Album Rating: 3.0


Even tho I thought this album was only alright, I'm happy to see them getting attention. There early stuff especially had some incredible earworms.

December 30th 2022


My ex got me to listen to these guys' first album a few weeks ago, I really enjoyed it. I might check this one out

December 30th 2022


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@FreakMachine - That's awesome! I will say that between this and their previous album they've deviated a bit from the sound they had with their debut. But I'm still a fan of it.

December 31st 2022


I enjoyed their debut thoroughly, was really eclectic. I'll get round to checking this at some point for sure!

March 26th 2023


Album Rating: 4.0

This is great

Contributing Reviewer
March 26th 2023


one of the worst bands in the uk

March 28th 2023


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@Sinternet - Lol fair enough

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