Album Reviews - Reviews

Pillow Queens – Name Your Sorrow

Pillow Queens’ third album Name Your Sorrow is a raucous feat of passion and disdain that explores the many facets of sorrow. The Dublin quartet have returned with something that offers little new, but brings to light the weaknesses of previous albums in its refinement of their shortcomings. Toeing the line between their first two albums, it lands in a sweet middle ground where we find Pillow Queens at their most refined.

“Let’s just play some rock n roll music,” exclaims the opening track ‘February 8th’, punctuated by each instrument as they re-introduce the band one by one. Instruments are layered with precision, striking a balance between Connolly’s booming vocal power and the ferocity of McGuinness’ guitars, Lyons’ drums and Corcoran’s bass. There’s a newfound cohesion, an invisible fifth band member who works to glue these previously sparring elements together in unison to create an album that glides seamlessly through the motions. 

In the past, Pillow Queens have proven themselves as master lyricists. In need of no refinement, that same craftsmanship returns with a literal vengeance in this album as each track strikes a bitter and venomous tone that empowers and persecutes in the same breath. Its songwriting is reserved in both sound and lyricism and carries a more profound impact with this understated approach. 

The sombre ‘Blew Up the World’ is an exercise in minimalism, packing an emotional punch with the simple statement: “I can’t call my Mam at all / I told her there’s nothing wrong”. However, it’s ‘Like a Lesson’ that delivers the most resounding and memorable line of the whole album: “I don’t wanna ruin my life but I wanna go home with you,” a striking line of drunken rhetoric that should be carved on a plaque behind every bar counter. The impact of these lines is one part writing, three parts delivery as Connolly belts out each syllable with outrageous conviction, a power that’s reined in during production to successfully package an agony that feels raw and intense, yet digestible.

Previously driven by short bursts of hard-driven hooks, there are new depths reached in Name Your Sorrow. That’s not to say they’ve abandoned their rough edge altogether; the heavy distortions remain but blend seamlessly into the background, providing a sturdy foundation upon which they build up other strengths.

The album draws to an end with a scream, “I just thought that I’d feel better now. I don’t” in the penultimate track ‘Love II’ before we’re lifted up again in a crescendo of harmonies in ‘Notes on Worth’. Something blossoms at the end of this album, as if they’ve finally broken into the next phase of their sound having exhausted and perfected the version of themselves we first knew. Name Your Sorrow concludes with the lines, “Settle the fire, bury the ash, build something higher.” They are building something, and it will be inevitably better. Christine Costello