There’s something arrestingly heart-on-sleeve about In Waiting. Somewhere within the emotional abandon of the lyrics and Pillow Queens own raw music, the record hides nothing from the listener, and in-turn leaves us with a sense of complete catharsis.
Pillow Queens aren’t just a band with a great sound, there’s a brilliance to their songwriting too. In the opening track ‘Holy Show’, this melding of sound and meaning comes to the fore with lyrics like “it’s the last time I’ll be your sorry sight. You’ll have these hollow bites to chew” delivered with taut emotion above a sound that has the power to convey the moment.
This symbiotic relationship between the story and the sound is what makes In Waiting so compelling. Through songs like the slow-burning ‘Brothers’, the dynamically building ‘Gay Girls’, and the rumbling growl of ‘Liffey’, the listener can take out of it what they bring with them, while the band can communicate what it is they’re trying to say. In many ways, this approach is key to Pillow Queens and why they hit so hard on the Irish music scene.
But it’s with the jolting beat and hook-laden verses and choruses of ‘Handsome Wife’, that In Waiting reaches its zenith. An early moment of melodic release, the track serves as a melting pot for the myriad of stylistic flourishes that appear throughout the album as a whole. Making the song a four-minute prism in which to glimpse the full-scale of the band’s monumental debut.
And so it goes, In Waiting is magnificent. There was a point during perhaps the third or fourth playback, where I just completely lost sight of the review and simply listened. Even the hopelessly cynical such as myself have a soft side, and Pillow Queens’ debut found it with an album that tells each story with heart-wrenching relatability. Essential listening in 2020.