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Pillow Queens

Review: Pillow Queens – Name Your Sorrow

Pillow Queens, the Dublin based four piece, haven’t been short of accolades since forming in 2016 and certainly since their 2020 debut ‘In Waiting’. Their previous two albums have seen this indie rock, all-female quartet nominated twice for Irish album of the year and they’ve performed twice on The Late Late Show with James Corden. No pressure then for the release of their third, ‘Name Your Sorrow’, especially when they’ve decided to massively change their sound from something quieter and introspective to one that growls and bares its teeth.

That change is instantly tangible from the very first notes of the albums’ opener ‘February 8th’. It begins with a haunting synth that is quickly accompanied by industrially powered drums which show that the band are setting their stall out early. There’s no place to hide and the previous records seem very far in the past. You’re left under no illusions of their new intent with ‘Suffer’, the second track, especially when the choppy, droning guitar intro kicks in. The lightness of the chorus comes later to lift the tone but the edge and spikes remain while the bridge sees a naked, raw bassline give way to a guitar part that attacks and wails.  It’s a strong track and no surprise that it was the lead single to be released from the album back in November.

There is no question at this point that Pillow Queens are unapologetically forging another path and I think it sounds great. The feel of this album is more brazen and confident than before and you get the sense of a group that understand themselves and are facing the world head on. Recognition needs to be given to producer Collin Pastore (boygenius, Lucy Dacus and Illuminati Hotties) for guiding the group through this transition and the weeks of work put in at Analogue Catalogue Studio in Newry, Northern Ireland. I really like this departure and the sonic evolution shows that they’re a band with more facets than they’ve revealed in the past.

‘Atlantis – A Lost Sonnet’ by Irish poet Eavan Boland has been cited as an inspiration for this record and ‘Name Your Sorrow’ is a line from that work which explores notions of dealing with grief and longing and an attempt to move forward from the past while remaining more complete rather than lessened. ‘They gave their sorrow a name and drowned it’ writes Boland and if Pillow Queens have had this in mind then they’ve certainly achieved it in ‘Name Your Sorrow’. We hear a band that are fully aware of who they’ve been and who they want to become.

‘Like a Lesson’ comes next and, for me, this is the one that cements the record. It’s a great tune with a big sound and has recently been released to accompany the other three singles from the album. The lyric, ‘I don’t want to ruin my life but I want to go home with you.’ encapsulates the open honesty of the record. This is Pillow Queens with their heart on their sleeve and after that track, the album continues in in this way until the end.

As a whole, ‘Name Your Sorrow’ is a good album. It’s brave, accomplished and well put together. For me there aren’t enough stand out moments that will keep me coming back again and again but it certainly demands attention and more than a few repeat listens. Enjoy, we’re witnessing to a band in evolution and who knows where they’ll go next.

3.5 rating
Total Score
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