“I don’t care about the beats, I care about the pen,” PinkPantheress told NME back in February. It’s very telling of her ethos; one that skyrocketed the musician to fame, leaving behind an entire wave of imitators grasping at the fringes of Pink’s genius. Since posting her debut single ‘Break It Off’ online in early 2021, Pink has proved time and time again that she’s Britain’s most singular new talent, and her full-length debut ‘Heaven Knows’ is proof. How has she managed to do it?
Listen to the creativity that floods this record. Pink speaks on subjects that other artists wouldn’t think to touch, and does so with flair. Writing about wealth can easily mutate into champagne problems, but on ‘Mosquito’, Pink singles out the anxieties of maintaining security: “I had prayed out loud / And lord you answered me too early”. On ‘Feelings’, she unpacks how imposter syndrome can manifest for a rising popstar: “I realise that I’m peaking too early.” These aren’t necessarily the most relatable emotions, but Pink communicates the unique challenges of her world through a doe-eyed, girl-next-door perspective.
Pink has always been a private character, one who doesn’t even like people knowing her birth name; it makes sense that there are moments of remove on ‘Heaven Knows’ that allow her imagination to flourish. ‘Feel Complete’ depicts a fictional account of alcoholism with a pounding drum groove is paired with a cooing, 90s’-style R&B flourish. ‘Ophelia’ and its harp solo shrouds the song in a surreal atmosphere – complete with a killer narrative twist.
There’s also plenty of moments where Pink challenges her own sound, one that has previously seen her pigeonholed into a ‘Y2K meets drum ‘n’ bass’ label tirelessly. There’s organs, tablas, drill bass slides, and rock-inspired drums on ‘Heaven Knows’, all of which suggest a commitment to artistry that will continue beyond this debut. Yet, equally, these instrumentals can be so evocative and imaginative that it’s difficult for guest features to find their feet. In itself, that’s a testament to Pink’s individual flow and production style, but it does a disservice to several songs on the album.
The starry, breakbeat-inflected ‘Nice To Meet You’ has one of the best choruses on ‘Heaven Knows’: “I pray that I’ll die before my baby / I’ll take a risk if anyone tries to touch my baby”) – yet Central Cee’s monotone delivery feels mismatched and lacklustre against Pink’s effortless charisma. Moreover, on opener ‘Another Life’, Pink squeezes in church organs, jungle beats and a squealing guitar solo, but Rema’s flow stalls the fluid movement of the song.
But ultimately, what makes ‘Heaven Knows’ such a compelling debut is its ability to create British wistfulness. The emotions and sounds are familiar enough to pull you in, and peculiar enough to make you stay. Heaven knows the boundaries of Pink’s talent to come.
- Release date: November 10
- Record label: Warner Records UK