We’ve always tipped Pillow Queens for success. By the time the Dublin-based quartet featured in our Plec Picks series in 2018, they had already released their debut EP, ‘Calm Girls’ and their single Rats was in regular rotation on BBC Radio 6. This was followed up by the exquisite ‘State Of The State’ EP, solidifying the sonic template that would later be all but perfected on their 2020 full-length debut album ‘In Waiting’.
This outing felt in many ways a statement of intent from a band who had gone from strength to strength with each release. Refined and emotionally hefty, the album announced the band as a vital voice in the Irish music scene and beyond.This time around, Pillow Queens’ brim with an unabashed confidence. ‘Leave The Light On’ documents the band’s growth from promising young upstarts to bonafide headline act.
Opening with the beating heart rhythm of Be By Your Side which builds gradually towards the group’s now signature soothing harmonies, there is a sense of catharsis in wearing your heart on your sleeve that pervades the album, with a heaping dose of self-awareness. On Be By Your Side, frontwoman Pamela Connolly confesses “I wanna feel / Every thought of you till my body drops dead / Oh, to behave like I should / And I understand now I’m no good / All of the time” with an earnestness that you can’t help but recognise as how you’ve once felt yourself, one time or another.
Pillow Queens have time and time again shown a knack for raw, uncanny lyrical subject juxtaposed with syrupy sweet melodies. Connolly’s voice makes the taboo subjects seem almost anthemic and triumphant, as can be seen on the soaring choruses of Historian, The House That Sailed Away and Delivered. Recent single and album highlight Hearts & Minds sees the band open up about fears of inertia and impostor syndrome in a male-dominated industry set against the backdrop of incredibly infectious hooks.
There’s much to appreciate in terms of performance and arrangement, too. Penultimate track My Body Moves is punctuated with an at first glance slightly discordant lead measure, cleverly vocally aped over the second verse to deliver a bittersweet reflection on youth and young romance (“Cool kids never grow up / They love and they live ‘til there’s no more”). Meanwhile, Well Kept Wife keeps it simple, reflecting the mundane existence of the hypothetical central character of the song.
While ‘In Waiting’ showcased a reluctantly talented band coming to terms with its working class roots and queer identity, ‘Leave The Light On’ is a more confidently exploratory record. Building on the raw sound and emotion of its predecessor, Pillow Queens sound more self-assured and deliberate in their approach, while still retaining the brilliant, sun kissed sound and pure honesty that captured the hearts and minds of fans and critics alike in the firstplace.