PinkPantheress: Heaven Knows

RiYL: beabadoobee, Ice Spice, Clairo
Recommended Tracks: "Another Life (feat. Rema)," "Ophelia," "Blue"

Releasing small 20 second snippets of her songs was PinkPantheress’ route to viral fame in the peak of the pandemic. Her real name being Victoria Walker, the musician earned millions of views with each post by sampling throwback songs uniquely spun with UK garage beats and her speak-sung vocals. Her style is what many listeners believed to embody the true “y2k aesthetic.”

As she began to tease more music as an independent artist and London university student in 2021, her posted songs “Break It Off” and “Pain” had achieved great success, reaching top 35 on the UK Singles Chart. This success caught several labels’ eyes and she later signed to Parlophone and Elektra Records in April 2021. Quitting college and another smashed hit EP later, PinkPanthress finishes off the year of 2023 strong with the release of her debut album, Heaven knows.

One thing that can always be described about PinkPantheress is that she loves paying homage to prior hits but in a way no one expects. The entrance of the album (“Another Life” feat Rema) almost took me aback through the use of an organ that gives almost a Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue” sound before jumping into sampling a short-lived KPOP group xf(x) in the early 2010s song titled “아이스크림 (Ice Cream).” In a prior interview with i-D, PinkPanthress called the band one of her favorite K-pop girl groups and previous instrumental sampling attempts can be found on archived posts of hers.

PinkPantheress interpolates some of the English lyrics of the sampled song, “You melt up my body and my heart” at the start of her chorus, to fit the lyrical story of her becoming more vulnerable with her lover who seems to not react in the way she expects. The chorus repeats the fact that since the lover does not seem present in the relationship, they must be dead and she bodes them well, hoping to see them in a subsequent lifetime. Rema’s addition to this song also seems to blend in perfectly with PinkPantheress flow, a certainly interesting choice to open with in her first album.

That track is then followed with another interpolation of Gross Boy’s “True Romance” on the beat and the artist shares details of her personal relationship with another musician. Due to the similar structural makeup of her opening track, I would label this one as a cheaper version of this style. However, another highlighted track of her debut album that does a better job of this method is her current single “Nice to Meet You” featuring Central Cee. The artist begins the song with a sampled track from Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” that is used throughout the song as the underlying instrumental. The use of an Indian tabla at the midpoint of the song took me by surprise, but definitely enhances the sound as PinkPantheress changes to a slower tempo, and Central Cee’s addition serves an amped-up concluding sound that is satisfying.

The recently released music video for the single utilizes inspiration of the K-pop culture and fandom according to PinkPantheress. In a short video with a fan, the musician explained that she loved the editing style of TikTok user Curakia, who posted a combined beabadoobee and PinkPantheress fan edit under the audio of Loona’s “Loonatic.” As a fellow fangirl, the artist is well-tuned to the many internet trends and attempts to keep up with her aesthetic with these influences.

The second half of the album takes a more vulnerable turn, starting with “Ophelia.” The song definitely demonstrates the strong suit of her lyrical writing skills by describing herself like Ophelia, a fictional character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet who falls madly in love with someone who rejects her, and she subsequently goes insane and ends her life by drowning. Reading this book in school, the artist was in love with the imagery in the written piece and decided to create a heartbreaking story out of it. She also quotes additional influences from American Horror Story’s episode “Pink Cupcakes” in a short TikTok post.

PinkPantheress describes her emotions for her lover in a similar perspective as Ophelia, declaring her immense love for them but also expressing remorse because she believed she should have treated them better. The use of soft harp arpeggios and percussion brings her vocals to the forefront, making the listeners tune into her angel-like voice in the dreamy landscape she attempts to paint.

Other songs like “Feel Complete” and “Blue” seem to appear monotonous due to the similar style of chorus’ repeating lines, but “Feelings” takes a different serious turn by describing her frequent mental spirals that are associated with her sudden rise to fame. The song’s lyrics also have a repetitive nature which is meant to emphasize the anxious dilemma and the percussions immensely push the pace of the track. It’s a different display of sound that I thought was intriguing for the artist.

Concluding the album with a greatly teased track “Capable of Love” and smash hit “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” featuring Ice Spice, she takes the safe route for wrapping up the album’s sound with dedicated fans being familiar with these tracks already. Overall, the album’s production is remarkable but sometimes repetitive—I would have loved to see more original sounds like “Mosquito” and “Boy’s a Liar” since those have demonstrated the most commercial success and also became personal favorites of mine.

Nonetheless, having a lot accomplished under her belt so far as an upcoming artist, PinkPantheress has recently announced her America and Canada tour dates in 2023, along with her appearance in several tour dates in Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS world tour. She will be performing in the House of Blues in Dallas on April 22, 2024.