- 01 Apr 22
Dublin’s spirited quartet fight imposter syndrome with anthem after emotion-driven anthem on their triumphant second record.
Given the strong independent ethos and raw power at the heart of Pillow Queens’ 2020 debut album In Waiting, the band’s sophomore outing was always going to be a challenge. Immediately standing out as a unique (perfectly harmonised) voice, the outfit wrote tracks tackling the strain of living in Dublin as artists while telling vibrant stories - often through a queer lens. Evading boxes, the band blaze a trail with fighting spirit and poignant anthems.
Leave The Light On, their first release on Canadian label Royal Mountain Records, is a riveting experience from beginning to end; shining a light on everything from body image and imposter syndrome to loneliness and love. The distinctive Pillow Queens wall of beautiful guitar noise (aided by producer Tommy McLaughlin) escalates to another level of brilliance. Opening with gorgeous lead single ‘Be By Your Side’, Pamela Connolly’s relentlessly moving vocals are layered above rousing guitar riffs and a pulsating intensity.
“And I wanna feel/Every thought of you till my body drops dead,” she belts, injecting sincerity with every note. ‘Hearts & Minds’ captures the recurrence of teen insecurities following Pillow Queens’ rise to prominence. Referencing Jackson C. Frank, the song (along with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen-influenced ‘Delivered’) continues the quartet’s habit of using religious lexicon. It’s sure to be a belter at their live sets, with a muscular chorus.
Despite numerous spine-tingling anthems, the album has quiet moments - though the impact remains all-consuming. Evoking feelings of late night drives on back roads, the quartet dive deep into solitude and isolation, coming out the other end with speckles of light in their vision. There’s yearning on ‘House That Sailed Away’, dejection on ‘Well Kept Wife’, adoration on ‘My Body Moves’ and hope on concluding gem ‘Try, Try, Try’. Nods to the poet Elizabeth Bishop and her observations of everyday life are threaded throughout.
The duality of Pillow Queens is ever-present in their enthralling lyricism. Somehow, Pillow Queens capture the need to fearlessly sing the words aloud at a gig - an exorcism of your worries - while also offering songs to shut the world out with.
Ascending to dizzying heights as an Irish export, Leave The Light On makes us want to cling onto them as a cherished, pure homegrown talent for a minute longer before releasing them to the outside world.
Listen: 'Try, Try, Try'
Leave The Light On is out now via Royal Mountain Records:
- Live Review
- 17 Oct 22