GoldenPlec had the pleasure of catching up with Pillow Queens a couple of months ago as part of our Plec Picks 2018 feature which among many other things taught us two very important things about the Dublin based all-girl quartet – one, that the chemistry between the four ladies (Sarah Corcoran – guitar/bass/vocals, Pamela Connolly – guitar/bass/vocals, Cathy McGuinness – guitar/vocals, Rachel Lyons – drums/vocals) is next level to the point where you can expect them to finish each other’s sentences, interrupt each other with whip-smart quips or spontaneously burst into song and two, that Pillow Queens’ ambition is to make “Hozier money”.
‘State Of The State’, the band’s second EP (following up on their 2016 debut effort ‘Calm Girls EP), serves as further proof of the former, and a solid, vital step towards the latter.
Released through Bristol-based indie label Specialist Subject and produced by Peter Ashmore (The Young Folk, The Hot Sprockets, Paul Brady, and The Eskies), ‘State of The State’ is marked by lively, cheery guitar riffs, deftly-layered vocal harmonies, and a sense of simplistic pop-sensible song arrangement so strong that when you consider the band’s lifespan (‘Calm Girls’ was released not long after the group’s formation), it’s genuinely terrifying.
All the while, this is underpinned by lyricism which reflects the prevailing concerns of four young women in contemporary Ireland. Rambunctious opening track pits subtle time signature changes and “whoa-whoa” backing vocals against verses that according to Corcoran address “the frustration of trying to succeed in post-recession Ireland and the effect that has on mental health”, as the ladies softly, earnestly chorus “Push me, pull my strings / I’m not a puppet but I can’t feel my wings” over an effortless melody that almost seems to say “ah sure, feck it anyway”.
Lead single and second track Favourite opens with a chord progression and lead guitar part reminiscent of early Sleater-Kinney and earnest vocals delivered in an unashamedly thick Dublin accent and refreshing local slang, focusing on relationship anxiety (“I’ve got no reason to be feeling like you’re mine / for the next four seasons let it die let it die / I can’t help hoping that you think I’m really nice / want some brief hand holding on the sly on the sly”).
Elsewhere, Cuckoo delivers delightfully whimsical, catchy hooks, and closing track Ragin’ tips its hat – melodically, at least – to rock ‘n’ roll standard Sleep Walk while describing relationship trouble in the most colloquially relatable way possible.
An EP that wears its heart and its influences on its sleeve, ‘State Of The State’ is a fantastic start to 2018 for Pillow Queens and a great place for the uninformed to become familiar. Loaded with charm, sass and DIY ethos while speaking by, of and for the Irish millennial; we’ve already told you to expect great things from this outfit. Here’s where they hold up their end of the bargain