Music Reviews

New Releases Roundup – Pale Waves, Chase Atlantic, Rebecca Black, FKA twigs, Headie One & Fred again..

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

As we ease into the new year, Gemma and Kiah kick off the new semester by giving us a selection of their favourite releases from the past week.

You Don’t Own Me – Pale Waves (Gemma):

The fourth single for Pale Waves’ sophomore record ‘Who am I?’, You Don’t Own Me perfectly captures the nostalgic era of the early 2000’s. The song advocates for independence and empowerment, a theme which works perfectly alongside the feisty tones of pop punk.

The verses of the track speak through the voice of a society which depicts how women should look, act and behave, with lyrics such as “Don’t cut your hair too short, cos it looks better long and straight, don’t make the first move, cos dignity will always wait,” and “Just learn to bite your tongue, were you not taught when you were young? Don’t show too much skin, don’t even start to speak your mind.”

However, the chorus entirely subverts this, speaking through the viewpoint of an empowered and independent woman who ignores these expectations, with lyrics such as “I’ll do whatever I want to,” “I’ll be whoever I want to” and “What makes you think you get your say.”

You Don’t Own Me is a song for women about what it’s like to be a woman in this world,” said Baron-Gracie “how society depicts, judges and criticises women on a daily basis. This song is incredibly important to me and I wanted to represent my own experiences. I also wanted to say a f*** you to everyone that plays by these fake delusional rules that women and gender need to fit inside a specific box.”

Continuing the guitar-driven, pop punk energy of previous singles Change, She’s My Religion, and Easy, You Don’t Own Me is another sign that ‘Who am I?’ is shaping up to be Pale Waves’ best work to date.

Slide – Chase Atlantic (Gemma):

Australian trio Chase Atlantic have shared the single Slide alongside announcing their third album, titled ‘Beauty In Death’, which will be released on March 5th. This announcement follows their 2020 singles Molly and Out The Roof, which will both also appear on the album alongside Slide. It will be the band’s first album since 2019’s ‘Phases’.

Living such a fast-paced, reckless lifestyle is bound to come with negative consequences

Slide delves into a metaphoric, yet very personal realm filled with chaos, danger, and brutal honesty. Living such a fast-paced, reckless lifestyle is bound to come with negative consequences, but nonetheless with the right amount of daring confidence and the ability to bounce back no matter the circumstance; it will always be just that for Chase Atlantic – a lifestyle,” the band commented on the track.

Slide is a smooth, atmospheric and decadent track, with a dreamy and soulful saxophone element to the instrumental, an instrument which the band have become renowned for thanks to the unique talents of Clinton Cave. Their effective and seamless blend of psychedelic alternative and R&B influences continues to be a successful direction for the band.

Girlfriend – Rebecca Black (Kiah):

A decade after the release of her viral song Friday, Rebecca Black has continued to progress her musical career and this week unveiled her new song Girlfriend, expected to be included on an upcoming EP. 2020 saw Black reintroduce herself into the music industry from her collaboration with Dorian Electra to a release of two singles, as well as gaining a significant following on TikTok. Her new song Girlfriend is a pop anthem that sees Black celebrating getting back with her girlfriend.

Following the release of Friday in 2011, Black faced enormous backlash from the internet, including numerous death threats just based on the song. In a tweet last year, Black said “Above all things, I just wish I could go back and talk to my 13-year-old self who was terribly ashamed of herself and afraid of the world.” Despite the hate she received, Black remained resilient, her new single proving her growth as an artist and her strength to continue being in the public eye.

Black’s style of music has been described as hyperpop and her vocals have been compared to Carly Rae Jepsen’s, the two both having soft melodic voices that produce a dream-like effect when layered. After featuring on an episode of the Dating Straight podcast, Black shared how she felt pressured to label her sexuality and was reluctant to officially ‘come out’. Girlfriend sees Black celebrate her sexuality in a carefree way, the track being a bouncy pop song that’s as catchy as it is danceable.

Don’t Judge Me – FKA twigs, Headie One & Fred again.. (Kiah):

Don’t Judge Me is an expanded version of the Judge Me interlude featured on Headie One and Fred again…’s 2020 release ‘GANG’. The track also marks twigs’ first single since the release of her critically acclaimed album ‘MAGDALENE’, which was released back in 2019. Twigs’ music has often been described as genre defying and Don’t Judge Me is no exception, with the singer working in elements of hip hop borrowed from Headie One. The song was produced by Fred again… who has collaborated with many big names in the music industry, such as Halsey and Stormzy.

His mention of Mark Duggan who was shot by the police in 2011 is especially poignant

The smooth synth backing of the song, as well as twigs’ smooth vocals, helps to create a peaceful ambience. The hip hop elements are built on by Headie One with his politically charged rap verse about his experiences growing up black in the UK. His mention of Mark Duggan who was shot by the police in 2011 is especially poignant as Headie One is part of the UK drill group OFB, with Duggan’s son Bandokay.

Accompanying the new single is an impressive music video directed by twigs and Emmanuel Adjei, which also features a group of black British celebrities and activists. The video includes Kara Walker’s ‘Fons Americanus’ sculpture, which provides a narrative on the darkness and tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, located in the Tate Modern. During the video, the actors are controlled by an invisible force which Emmanuel described as “a manifestation of the invisible oppressor.”

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Featured image courtesy of Nina via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @palewaves and @msrebeccablack via No changes made to these images.

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