PinkPantheress’ highly anticipated debut album, Heaven knows, descended from the pearly gates last week, unveiling 13 songs spanning a total runtime of 34 minutes. This release, including the TikTok sensation “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2” with Ice Spice, signifies her shift from internet fame to a broader pop landscape, and it certainly lives up to expectations. The album, with its groovy vibes, reminiscent of jungle and garage from the early 2000s, delves into various forms of love, deception, and heartbreak to provide a candid exploration of young relationships.
Known for her signature short duration songs, jungle beats, and aspirated vocals, PinkPantheress exhibits newfound versatility in both textures and instrumentation in Heaven knows. Departing from her 2021 mixtape, to hell with it, where some tracks felt more like demos, this latest release demonstrates a mature, meticulously produced evolution.
Opening with a gothic organ on “Another life”, featuring Rema, there is a strong, upbeat start with a surprising guitar solo. “True romance”, which follows, feels more like a conventional pop song in terms of instrumentation. In the song, PinkPantheress incredibly captures the yearning and infatuation of a fan towards a popstar, with references to being “in the crowd, can you see my hand?” and that “I got a tattoo just to show how much I care”. The desperation of a one-sided parasocial relationship as “true romance” pierces through, and the song evokes an essence of “new nostalgia”, which references music from the past couple of decades with its early 2000s sound. “Bury me”, featuring Kelela, embraces a similar atmosphere, blending a crisp bassline and a half-time beat, with R&B vocals to convey a desire for genuine connections. She sings that “I almost fell in love but I couldn’t tell you”, tapping into the confusion faced by many who have to conceal their true feelings. Her lyrics are relatable, along with her wispy vocals, and it feels as though she’s sharing a secret with us.
Surprisingly, the track I keep returning to is the interlude, “Internet baby”. Despite not being much shorter than her other tracks, it features a stripped-back instrumentation, showcasing her vocals and a resonant beat. The repetition of simple lyrics like “you’re a needy guy, but I guess I kinda like that”, make it memorable, and it’s definitely been stuck on repeat for me. What ties this track together is the opening arpeggiated riff, played by a piercing guitar that adds a slightly edgier feel.
The most anticipated track on the album has to be the collaboration with Central Cee on “Nice to meet you”; a tender exploration of intense, youthful love. We hear passionate lyrics like “my love’s pouring like a waterfall”, and that “I pray that I’ll die before my baby / and I’ll take a risk if anyone tries to touch my baby”, encapsulating the obsession of a new relationship. Because of this raw tenderness, Central Cee’s rap verse sounds somewhat discordant within the realm of this song, beginning with the lines: “I woke up to my shawty crying / I said nah, I’m not being unfaithful baby”, creating a slightly jarring dichotomy. While Central Cee has sampled PinkPantheress’ songs in his own raps before, this collaboration fell a little flat for me, but, as always, her lyrics are catchy and the overall song is sweet and charming.
Lyrically, PinkPantheress explores a more emotionally flexible range in this album, no longer restricted only to the pastel, cutesy feelings of love. “Ophelia” delves into love from the viewpoint of Shakespeare’s Hamlet character, with darker references to being “underwater / as I descend, I see my life flash again” – creating a mood of hopelessly desperate love. Similarly, “The aisle” navigates the complexities of toxic relationships, wishing for a more optimistic future with lyrics like, “I’d picture you one day after you improved / and you’re walking down the aisle / it’s the thing that makes me smile”, offering a wistful glimpse into the challenges of love.
Heaven knows marks a pivotal point in PinkPantheress’ artistic journey, transcending the scattered teases of her previous mixtape to deliver a cohesive, finely crafted LP that resonates both with her established audience and the broader pop sphere. Building upon the musical style of her previous release, PinkPantheress demonstrates her artistic evolution by experimenting with diverse stylistic choices while steadfastly maintaining her iconic garage sound.