Rising U.K. pop singer and producer PinkPantheress released her debut studio album, “Heaven knows,” Nov. 10. An embellished extension of the shy bedroom beats from her teenage years, “Heaven knows” showcases PinkPantheress stepping into her fully realized musical persona.
For longtime fans, witnessing the drop of “Heaven knows” is nothing short of heartwarming. When the singer first started posting short homemade demos from a faceless TikTok account in 2020, the internet was quickly captivated by her sweet and ephemeral sound. Viral hits like “Pain” and “Just for me,” despite being just over a minute long, featured wistful lyrics of young love and longing layered over pulsing breakbeats. With the eventual 2021 release of her debut mixtape, “to hell with it,” PinkPantheress’s fun-sized catalog remained alluring but left much up to the imagination with fans eager to see her grow into her impressive potential.
“Heaven knows” is PinkPantheress’s answer to these hopes. Moving out of her teenage bedroom and into a professional studio, she reveals an enhanced sound that is undeniably more polished but still maintains the charm that made her earlier tracks memorable. In a Billboard interview earlier this year, PinkPantheress revealed her desire to graduate from the internet girl persona her TikTok fame had assigned her. “Heaven knows” meets this goal, showcasing her ability to write and sing pop music for general audiences that stretch far beyond online niches.
The first track of the album, “Another life,” immediately intrigues with a spooky, vampiric organ sequence, complimenting PinkPantheress’s lyrics about a lover who is so dismissive that they seem soulless. In addition to its dramatic melodies and breakbeats, “Another life” features Afrobeats rapper Rema, producing a unique synchrony of vocals from the two.
PinkPantheress’s experimentation with a variety of musical moods and sounds is by far the most enjoyable part of her debut album. Following the darker aura permeating “Another life,” sunny guitar strumming underlines the lovesick track “True romance” as well as the twinkling drumbeat backing up “Mosquito.”
While previous themes of unreciprocated love and dreamy yearning persist in these newer songs, their amped-up production quality and longer track lengths allow PinkPantheress’s vulnerable sentiments to flourish further. In the chorus of “Mosquito,” she sings: “‘Cause I just had a dream I was dead / And I only cared ‘cause I was taken from you / You’re the only thing that I own / I hear my bell ring, I’d only answer for you.”
With her previous collaboration with Ice Spice in “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2” being a massive hit, seeing how PinkPantheress’s signature style fares with other artists is another highlight of “Heaven knows,” which contains four features total. Her track with U.K. rapper Central Cee, “Nice to meet you,” has an infectious energy and the duo displays an endearing and addictive chemistry together. Here, the affection PinkPantheress shows throughout the album is challenged by the acts of infidelity that Central Cee boasts about in his verse — “But it weren’t one time, it was four or five”— creating an interesting imagined scenario of a back-and-forth lover’s quarrel.
While the features bring a special catchiness to “Heaven knows,” solo tracks where PinkPantheress has room to explore more complex emotional issues are the album’s stand-out gems.
She further spotlights the shedding of her easily replicable internet-girl label in “Internet baby (interlude),” repeating the line “I am not your internet baby” in a sultry, robotic tone. In the delicate, fairy-esque “Ophelia,” she alludes to the tragic character Ophelia from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to express her sorrow over a violent, all-consuming crush. “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,” she sings, her voice gradually becoming more distorted to replicate the feeling of drowning.
The subsequent song, “Feel complete,” also employs a combination of sweet instrumentals layered behind melancholic themes. Over a nostalgic beat, PinkPantheress sings about being hurt by a lover struggling with substance abuse.
Throughout the latter half of the album, we see heavy tracks like “Feelings” and “Capable of love” adorned with soft, whispery vocals and angelic sonic backdrops, seemingly acting as masks that PinkPantheress dares listeners to look through to understand what lies behind the shiny curtains of her mind.
With her debut album, PinkPantheress makes it clear that she has come a long way since her days of anonymously releasing snippets of music online and that she doesn’t plan on returning. A perfect sonic blend of the new popstar persona she has grown into and the authentic self that her fans fell in love with years ago, “Heaven knows” invites us to follow PinkPantheress into the new soundscapes she plans to dream up.
Isabel Hahn is an Arts & Culture section editor who concentrates in English and Behavioral Decision Sciences. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, reading, and journaling.