Review by Lorna Myles
This blissful, angry summer is ended and we are not yet saved, because we have not yet told you about Pavlova’s amazing Queensway EP. It’s so, so good! And it sounds like sun and trees and also sadness and anger, politics and climate change, and holding on whatever joy you can throughout it.
This EP was released back in February, and we feel pretty remiss in bringing it to wider attention. With fuzzy guitars, occasional time changes and melodic vocals, at times it’s vaguely reminiscent of the poppier side of early Sidi Bou Said (Lewisham band from the early-mid 90s, criminally underrated) – and in fact Lee Friese-Greene from SBS is the guitarist, vocalist and principle songwriter for these tracks.
Title track ‘Queensway’ harkens back to halcyon days of “dancing at the indie disco” and falling hard for the love of your life. It’s pure pop, with bouncy guitars, warm keys and layers of harmonies all coming in towards the end. It’s immediate and happy with a hopeful, youthful sound, like the kind of band you form when you’re at university, on the brink between childhood and adulthood, feeling the first flushes of romance and adventure and freedom and heartache, before “real” life drags you down to reality.
‘Well For Water’ goes on more of a journey, opening with west coast harmonies and going through several movements, starting out sombre and slow as Lee ponders “she keeps on asking, is it better the devil you know?” before breaking out one of those time changes and a more intense tone and then on to what feels like a swirling fairground ride towards the end.
Across all of these songs there’s a dreamy, bucolic feel, but with a hint of the darkness at the centre of every fairy tale and a vigorous shake of political and feminist anger. The latter is most evident on ‘Trump Runt’, a garage-rock rant about the leader of the free world, with shades of Lush at their most bitter.
But it’s final track ‘Mock Me’ which lingers the longest after listening, being a furious lament about the menopause and about the rage felt when your body changes and turns against you. If you’d been wondering where are all the feminist anthems of middle age, of reaching a point in life when the world says you’re past it, but actually you have more to say and are better equipped to say it – well, here’s a good place to start.