Dropping the figurative needle on this album I got chills within the first ten seconds—I’m not kidding. Those first few notes of Pillow Queens’ opening song ‘Be By Your Side’ open up their second studio LP, Leave the Light On, with a rush of nostalgic perfection that’s as rare as it is enveloping.
It’s not just the first song that holds up to the hype, the entire album provides a sense of floating ethereal quality while remaining so rooted and grounded ain the universality of all our lives. They put it best themselves, describing the album as, “‘Uaigneas an chaldaigh’, the Irish sense of loneliness experienced on the shore. The confusion and discombobulation of waking and feeling unfamiliar. The liminal space between dreaming and being conscious. The unmooring that happens when a sense of self is being explored and sometimes slipping away.”
Pillow Queens are hardly strangers to stellar lyricism. While plenty might rush to call it “poetic,” I’d sooner describe it as “prose-ish,” as it anchors its narrative depth in competent throughlines of story and emotion. Keeping consistent in their exploration of queerness and Irish Catholicism, their sophomore album embraces a new sense of the unknown, layering it on like honey.
Lyrics like ‘Be By Your Side’ with, “And I wanna feel the blood rushing straight to my head, I wanna feel like a dog with a bone to be lead and, I wanna feel every pulse to the shake in your leg, I wanna feel every thought till my body drops dead,” and ‘House That Sailed Away’ with, “Nobody told me that this was the hard part, Wasting away cooking meals for a sore heart, And nobody said you’d still bring me flowers.”
“You’re pretty strong for someone with no power, And nobody asked the time or the day, That you left that you sailed away, She learned to talk before you, Have you still got nothing to say?” continue the lyrics which cut straight to the soul. Perhaps we even spot a Maggie Nelson reference in ‘My Body Moves’ with “Is it cool if I hold onto, Every inch of you, Till my skin turns blue.” But if I simply quoted the lyrics that make this album such a beautiful piece, I’d be here all day.
As for the musicality, it hardly gets much better than this. Their first album already shows that they’re masters of their craft, but this one knocks it out of the park. Each track is varied enough to grip your interest the whole way through, but consistent enough to flow as a cohesive unit. Their sound has a sense of bedroom-twang. It’s not generic indie—it’s deeper, more complex than that. Almost immediately, my mind went to comparisons like Big Thief, Japanese Breakfast, Allison Ponthier. Maybe a little bit of Soccer Mommy and Ok Cowgirl.
‘No Good Woman’, ‘Hearts & Minds’, and ‘Be By Your Side’ kicked off this album’s first steps into the world as the first single releases, but it seems that any of the tracks on Leave the Light On would have done the trick. ‘Well Kept Wife’ offers up some Modest-Mouse-esque guitar riffs, while ‘Body Moves’ gifts one of the most satisfying key changes in recent memory. Each song has its own little gem hidden within it, making this an album you can listen to on repeat and never get tired of. And in case I haven’t made it clear enough, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future.
Pillow Queens’ second album, Leave the Light On is out Friday, April 1st. You can stream it below.