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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

‘Heaven knows’ only knows how to stray away from prior success

In the attempt for diversity, PinkPantheress’ second studio album lacks cohesiveness
The “Heaven knows” album cover portrays PinkPantheress posing in a white silk dress with a white dove flying above her.

Contrasting themes of love and death with nonchalant delivery, drum and bass artist Vicky Beverly Walker, more commonly referred to as PinkPantheress released her sophomore album “Heaven knows,” on Friday, Nov. 11. Through her unique use of pronounced beats overlaid with soft, auto-tuned vocals, PinkPantheress gained fame early on in her career, in 2021. Her second single “Pain” went viral on TikTok during the pandemic, amassing over 4 million streams and eventually leading to her debut album “to hell with it.” However, the 13 tracks featured on “Heaven knows” signify a shift from PinkPantheress’s earlier drumfunk genre, causing inconsistencies in the album’s overall cohesiveness.

The album starts off strong with tracks “Another life” and “True romance,” both showcasing a positive example of the divergence of genres. “Another life” aligns more with PinkPantheress’s previous genre, seen through the euphonious beats and fast, but flawlessly enunciated vocals. “True romance,” while similar in terms of vocals, feels more diverse, from the utilization of guitar and drums as well as the clever use of crowd cheers and camera clicking to accentuate the song’s lyrics.

“I’m in the crowd, can you see my hand? / Bring me on tour help me understand / I told you before this is true romance / And now I can’t be friends this is true romance” (“True romance,” Track 2)

The eighth track, “Ophelia,” completely strays away from PinkPantheress’ established drum and bass genre, surprising listeners with its use of a harp as its primary instrument and slower and more melancholic vocals, setting an ethereal atmosphere different from other songs on the album. “Ophelia” demonstrates the intricacies of PinkPantheress’ lyricism seen through her parallels between love and death. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the song stems from the tragic fate of Ophelia, a character forced into madness and presumed to have died by suicide by drowning, due to the actions of her lover. In the pre-chorus, the lyrics, “You’re not sorry / And no one else has this effect on me” poignantly depict the insanity of a relationship that is slowly spiraling into chaos, referencing Hamlet and Ophelia’s relationship. The chorus further portrays this symbolism, with PinkPantheress expressing feelings of suffocation, alluding to Ophelia’s death by drowning. PinkPantheress’ strong symbolism paired with graceful background music allows for “Ophelia” to stand out among the other tracks of the album.

“So tell me, what did I do to deserve you killin’ me this way? / I can’t lose my life like this, I’m still fighting / And if I die, please, let them find me / Because my lungs aren’t workin’ / Liquid fills the inside of them, stops me talkin’ / You can see me underwater / As I descend, I see my life flash again” (“Ophelia,” Track 8)

While PinkPantheress’ deviation from her established style works in certain cases, in others, it feels out of place and pales in comparison to other songs in the album, leading to a lack of cohesivity in the setlist. For example, the 11th track “Feelings,” showcasing PinkPantheress’ soft vocals layered on top of a hard-hitting instrumental, feels like an attempt to stray from her bedroom pop sound. However, her soft voice is incompatible with the confident emotions she is trying to convey, resulting in an awkward middle ground that leaves listeners lost. As a result of the struggle between experimenting and staying true to her genre, there is no comfortable place the album can retreat to, making the album as a whole challenging to listen to. 

“Boy’s a liar Pt. 2” was released on Feb. 3, 2023.

PinkPantheress’ divergence from her usual genre feels like an attempt to prevent dullness; however, despite her efforts to introduce variety in her album, redundancy still emerges. Repetition plays a significant part in PinkPantheress’ vibe: her echoes of harmonies reiterating catchy lines embodies the importance of repetition for her sound. But, this once-distinctive repetition is quickly overdone in every track, making each song indistinguishable from one another and leaving no space for other proponents of PinkPantheress’ aura to shine.

The album features many artists, allowing for the inclusion of a variety of genres, such as rap, R&B and soul. The 13th track “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2,” released as a single on Feb. 3, is known for its catchy verse, rapped by Ice Spice. The combination of rapping on PinkPantheress’ instrumental deviates completely from her prior discography, creating an interesting mix new to listeners. While different from her prior work, Ice Spice’s feature flawlessly complements PinkPantheress’s energy, portraying a perfect example of a good feature. 

“He say that I’m good enough, grabbin’ my duh-duh-duh / Thinkin’ ’bout shit that I shouldn’t have / So I tell him there’s one of me, he makin’ fun of me / His girl is a bum to me / Like that boy is a cap, sayin’ he home but I know where he at, like / Bet he blowin’ her back / Thinkin’ ’bout me ’cause he know that ass fat”(“Boy’s a liar Pt. 2”, Track 13)

Yet, the other features on the album are flawed in many aspects, either leaving listeners confused or resulting in PinkPantheress being outshined by the feature. For example, the fifth track “Nice to meet you ft. Central Cee” lacks a harmonious balance between the artists, with PinkPantheress staying true to her drum and bass genre and Central Cee staying true to rapping, resulting in a lack of balance between the two artists. Unlike Ice Spice, who slightly deviates from her regular style by rapping on a completely new instrumental, Central Cee raps on an instrumental far too similar to his discography, boring listeners in the process.

On its own, “Heaven knows” is a respectable album due to its depth in lyricism and clever use of background sounds. However, knowing PinkPantheress’ capability to create an unskippable album, such as her 2021 debut “to hell with it,” and produce the few outstanding songs in this album, such as “Ophelia” and “True romance,” her sophomore album doesn’t live up to her expected potential. 

About the Contributors
Ananya Chaudhary, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Ananya is currently a junior and Arts & Entertainment editor for El Estoque. She enjoys reading, watching "How I Met Your Mother" (all nine seasons) and going on walks with her dog.
Dylan Nguyen, Staff Writer
Dylan Nguyen is currently a junior and a staff writer for El Estoque. His hobbies include chauffeuring his friends across town, taking six hour naps and cooking everything-but-the-kitchen-sink meals.
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