Image: Faolán Carey
Mixing grunge and post-punk with their signature indie-rock sounds, Ireland’s queer all female band, Pillow Queens have set the bar high with their debut album, In Waiting. The genre-bending album is an exploration of love, family, religion, politics and adulthood, yet it it never feels overwhelming. Most importantly, the album is a celebration of queer identities. Using the record as a vehicle to tell their stories, the band are bringing light to queer journeys that aren’t overly represented in mainstream media and music. Wide-stream media representation of queer stories and experiences have more often than not focused on negative experiences. On the record, Pillow Queens have represented their own experiences of queerness, celebrating who you are and living your most true self within a new Irish landscape that is more accepting of people who identify as queer.
The four piece, made up of Pamela Connolly, Sarah Corcoran, Rachel Lyons and Cathy McGuinness, intricately weave the themes of the record, soundtracked by layers of striking harmonies, memorable hooks and cascading guitars. Opening with the hypnotic Holy Show, from the first note, the vocals are captivating, keeping the listener entranced until the conclusion of the record. Delicate guitar chords and distant drumming create the perfect soundscape for the harmonious vocals. Hypnotic sounds and harmonies continue on Child Of Prague, which has religious references, more directly to the church, something the band further explore in Liffey. The latter opens with a droning organ sound, shortly after overtaken by a heavy guitar riff.
The bands perfectly crafted anthem Handsome Wife epitomises who they are. The track acts as the perfect teaser for what to expect from the record as a whole. The self-empowering track pairs intimate and vulnerable lyrics with punk-infused vocals and soaring guitar riffs. Lyrically, the song references LGBTQI+ rights, particularly same sex marriage and inclusivity, something the community fought hard to attain. The lyrical content juxtaposes the sonic sound of the track in a harmonious way. The vibrant HowDoILook is an introspective contemplative moment with a catchy hook and is a standout track on the record.
Taking a turn, the record finds its quieter moments on Gay Girls and Harvey. On Gay Girls, lead singer Corcoran’s Dublin accent is out in full force and captivates. The track navigates religion and sexuality within a conservative Ireland. The song still comes complete with a lively chorus, while Harvey takes a smoother approach. Brothers is a tribute to the men within the band members lives, offering touching observations on family and mateship. The record closes with Donaghmede, a sentimental tribute to the suburb Connolly grew up in.
Since forming in 2016, the band have spent their time perfecting their craft, with significant personal and professional growth taking place. Had Pillow Queens immediately released a record the sonic sound would be fairly different. Through the release of their EP’s and extensive touring, the bands sound has evolved into the unparalleled musicianship and lyrical mastery present on the record. The band seem to have a grasp on the responsibility to represent a group of under represented people. They’ve created a safe space where all listeners can celebrate the LGBTQI+ community and offer a joyful perspective. It also offers those who are related to individuals who identify as queer, a body of work that disassociates from the negative narratives usually conveyed within the media, proving that your identity shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be surrounded by negativity.
In Waiting is out tomorrow!