There isn't a feeling quite like when you find a new band on the verge of breaking out. Being there at the beginning, and knowing that you are pulling the bandwagon, rather than jumping on it once it's already rolling downhill, is something that can't quite be put into words. As a critic, one of the best things about the 'job' is being able to tell people about these bands, and to think that maybe I have a small part to play in helping to spread the word about some great new music. It doesn't happen as often as I would like it to, but when it does happen, it warms the heart the way The Grinch felt when that Christmas classic jumps the shark.
Today is one of those days where I feel like we're on the verge of something special.
The band behind that is Pale Waves, a new band that has caught my attention with their string of singles. They are the perfect band for this exact moment, for me, because they fill a need that is glaring. This week saw the release of Taylor Swift's newest album, which is a dark turn and a horrible disappointment. We aren't here to re-litigate that record, but I bring it up for a specific reason. "1989" was a fantastic pop record, and Pale Waves have the ability to plug the gap Taylor Swift has left. Their music takes a slightly different turn, but the core of the sound is a more organic version of the 80's synth-pop sound that "1989" updated for the modern age.
With the three singles that have been released, Pale Waves have already given us enough of a taste of who they are to show that they know their identity, and that they are potentially the next big thing in pop/rock. With a Robert Smith aesthetic to go along with jangly guitars and wispy vocals, they are light mixed with dark, edge mixed with softness. They are a throwback to when pop music was still music, where you could hear the humanity in it, even as the delivery emphasizes the polished sheen.
"Television Romance" and "New Year's Eve" are perfect slices of throwback pop, with bouncing rhythms you can dance to, and a laid-back atmosphere that is both detached and engaging. Before you know it, those hooks will be stuck in your head. Pale Waves know their limits, and they play right into their strengths on these songs. That's a veteran move, and it's impressive to see from newcomers.
Right now we only have about ten minutes of music to judge, but that's enough to have my excited about what comes next. 2017 has been a horrible year for pop music, but these songs give me hope. Pale Waves is easily my favorite thing to come from the pop world this year, and as they work on what is expected to be either an EP or full-length for 2018, that release will be something worth anticipating.