PinkPantheress Spreads Her Wings on 'Heaven knows'
Published Nov 10, 2023"I am not your internet baby," PinkPantheress sings on her debut album Heaven knows — a repeated refrain in which she explicitly distances herself from her origins as a social media staple whose bite-sized pop songs seem tailor-made for TikTok.
Unlike past releases, which have combined R&B and garage breakbeats into brief bursts of insular pop, Heaven knows is immaculately produced and fully realized, with a few songs stretching to an epic-by-her-standards three minutes. Mega-producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters) and hyperpop luminary Danny L Harle are among the producers who helped flesh out these immaculate soundscapes, with every track stuffed with beautiful flourishes and fleeting hooks: the distorted synth line that swoops elegantly through the acoustic arpeggios of "Capable of love," the vintage disco strings of "The aisle" and pan flute patches of "Blue."
The production is so multifaceted and gorgeous that it almost threatens to upstage PinkPantheress's breathy, feather-light vocals — but her soft delivery effectively subverts the tender melodrama of her words, and she deadpans lyrics written with the bleeding-heart rawness of a Brontë novel. "I just had a dream I was dead / And I only cared 'cause I was taken from you" she coos amidst the Spanish guitars of "Mosquito," cleverly personifying her bank account as a lover.
Romance becomes an unhealthy fixation on "Capable of love," as PinkPantheress lies alone in the dark imagining hypothetical heartbreak: "I'm obsessed with the idea that one day it breaks up / 'Cause after that, I know I'll never be as capable of love." It's impeccably constructed pop, portraying the biblical grandeur of youthful love with the refinement of an ambitious artist working with some of the best producers in the world.
The sense that she has levelled up is undercut, however, by the closing song, as the Ice Spice collab "Boy's a liar Pt. 2" is perhaps inevitably tacked onto the end of Heaven knows. It's a bit of a self-own, as it easily outshines the rest of the album despite being far simpler in every way. PinkPantheress has become an expert pop craftswoman — but the stripped-down magic of "Boy's a liar Pt. 2" reminds listeners that incredible hooks outweigh intricate production every time. (Warner Records UK)