Album Evaluations: Pale Waves – Who Am I? and Django Django – Glowing within the Darkish

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  Album Reviews: Pale Waves - Who Am I?  and Django Django - Glowing in the Dark

When Avril Lavigne first broke out in the early 2000s, few could have imagined the impact she would have on her youngest listeners. Today, a new group of indie performers cite Lavigne – and her brassy brand of MTV-friendly pop steeped in growling rage against the machine – as a major influence: Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail, Phoebe Bridgers … And then there’s pop -Punk Imprint Pale Waves, whose singer Heather Baron-Gracie says Lavigne is not just an influence, but the influence. Pales Waves’ second album, Who Am I ?, is full of sweet and sour hooks and youth-friendly anthems.

Progressive intent to be yourself is sincere but unfortunately it just comes out like a depop ad interrupting an episode of Riverdale. Even when Lavigne sang about life like this, it was less on the nose than Pale Waves’ special feelings after school: “I know the magazines say you are thin”; “Do not listen to society”; “You’d better cross your legs because that’s not very ladylike.”

The intentions of Pale Waves are as honorable as those of Ned Stark, who has an anti-drug conversation at school, and Baron-Gracie, who chooses to use feminine pronouns in “She’s My Religion,” is an exciting moment the LGBTQ + representation (Lavigne could have done the same in her) day, had she wanted? And yet, despite the sophisticated production and radio-enabled melodies of the album, one wishes Pale Waves could find a more sophisticated language to express youthful enlightenment. RB

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Django Django had the beginning that most bands both dream and fear of. Her self-titled debut in 2012 was a surprise hit that earned critical raves, a Mercury Prize nomination and charts in the UK’s top 40.

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You did well gathering unexpected hype after such an onslaught. Others may have collapsed under the pressure, but Django Django released two strong follow-ups, including synth-pop-indebted Marble Skies from the eighties of 2018. Their latest version, Glowing in the Dark, is an ambitious reach for new heights .

Django Django, previously referred to as a “prog indie alchemist” by The Guardian, set out to create gold on tracks like “Headrush,” a shuffling joyride of cheeky basslines and frontman Dave Maclean’s Beach Boys Croon. On “Waking Up”, the ghostly whispers of guest Charlotte Gainsbourg emulate the faded glamor of the 1968 outlaw epic “Bonnie & Clyde” by her father Serge. “Kick the Devil Out” has a cosmic energy; The title track is a whole solar system made of swirling Moog synthesizers and otherworldly vocals. In these gloomy times, Glowing in the Dark lives up to its title. ROC