Pillow Queens – Leave the Light On
Dublin four-piece Pillow Queens found themselves inundated with praise following their 2020 debut In Waiting, a punchy reckoning of Irish Catholic upbringings and open queerness – and that wasn’t all. A resolute and reflective posture became an anthemic source of celebration and belonging within the LGBTQIA+ scene, as well as winning pure musical recognition from rock and indie listeners. Now that the band have cleared a space for themselves, a second album speaks with a collective surety as it grapples to find sense in transitional periods, liminal spaces and duality; it’s a sensitive consideration of a life in progress.
Leave the Light On realises the band’s sonic ambitions. Their sound is full without overpowering, the atmosphere is intuitively crafted through selective use of harmony and gradual instrumental development. Lyrically, the tracks are complex results of deep introspections, using sound to coalesce traces of many different contexts and situations into one cohesive sensation. In its varying manifestations, we witness the feeling of not recognising what should be familiar, and they continually capture the essence of such multi-faceted emotions. Narrative frequently provides impetus, but certainly not to be interpreted linearly.
It is their attention to paradoxes that provides substance, and duality as an inspiration runs throughout. Opening track Be By Your Side speaks of the mechanisms one uses to push through, coupled with feeling ready to burst; the track’s uncomplicated beat throbs with anticipation of an emotional release, something cathartic to come. Whereas House that Sailed Away is a melancholic, swinging lamentation of a romantic relationship turning platonic, and later on, My Body Moves meshes anxieties of an older and younger self, realising they are not mutually exclusive.
Historian also pulls listeners two ways, with verses of syrupy vocals between chaotic choruses, scratched and static, echoing both the dreaminess of new love, as well as its unpredictable, risky nature. Delivered is an enduring chant: measured instrumentation creates a stretched progression as Pamela Connelly describes a loop that cannot be broken, an act of being delivered that feels life binding. Distant backing vocals edge closer until the track morphs into desperate, helpless repetition; a band possessed.
Pillow Queens spread themselves far throughout the rest of the album, though not to the detriment of quality. Themes of a male-dominated industry and the futility of striving for perfection are rendered with frustration and acceptance in equal measure, sometimes solicitous and fractured, other times resigned or even brazen. No track rushes to grasp its feeling or thought – it’s songwriting that swells with sentiment and heart, but also backbone, tenacity and grit, the product of refined musical ability, emotional perceptiveness and the roots they remain tied to.
Leave the Light On is evidence that despite such acclaim from listeners far from home, Pillow Queens will remain humble and steadfast in what they initially set out to do. They write for themselves and do not seem likely to be swayed by whoever gets on board with it. For this reason, there is a genuineness to their work, both intimate and unifying.
Leave the Light On is released on 1st April 2022. For further information or to order the album visit Pillow Queens’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Be By Your Side here: