Since the release of her debut mixtape to hell with it, PinkPantheress has had a monopoly on a vulnerable, emotion-forward lane in dance pop. The meteoric, top 10 commercial success of “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2” certainly helped the argument for those who viewed her as one of the brightest new acts in the genre. Successful as she has been in that space, long-term staying power often comes from artists who are able to reinvent and continue iterating on their style, lest they risk growing stagnant, and for better or for worse, much of the singer’s catalog had often relied on a similar formula from song to song.
As rumors of PinkPantheress’ Heaven knows began circulating, we got two singles from the “Pain” singer, those being “Mosquito” and “Capable of love.” The former predated word of the album in the first place, and fit nicely into her recent spree of loose singles as an airy, addictive piece of bubblegum pop. If you had questions about her sound though, the former went a long way to answering them. Especially in the church bell-laden outro, “Capable of love” carried a much fuller and maximalist production style than we heard from the singer previously, a good sign of things to come as the release date of her debut crept closer.
New Faces and New Approaches on PinkPantheress’ Heaven knows
Now having arrived in full, our introduction to the project comes with the Rema-assisted “Another life.” Its first impression is as strong as any this year—organ chords giving way to retro synth work, eventually all fading into the background as trademark PinkPantheress breakbeat takes over. Once the “Calm Down” singer makes his entrance, he’s almost unrecognizable, delivering a Destroy Lonely-esque verse that’s pitch perfect, respective to the “love lost” tale set up earlier in the song. In its closing moments, this one takes yet another left turn with a power rock guitar solo. So, suffice to say, if creative risks are what you were looking for on Heaven knows, the LP delivers early and often on that promise.
A few tracks later, the singer links up with another rising UK star when Central Cee appears for “Nice to meet you.” This one plays a bit more into mainstream sensibilities and lands a bullseye in doing so. Though the rapper’s usual drill leanings make this collab harder to imagine in concept, he’s a perfect contrast in practice, and “Nice to meet you” is as sure a bet as any on Heaven knows for huge radio play.
“Bury me” is the last song with a surprise appearance, at least when it comes to guest vocals. That comes by way of alt R&B phenom Kelela, who no doubt had an influence on the brooding, moody atmosphere of this track. Equally intriguing, though, are the production credits. BYNX, the beatmaker de jour for artists like Yeat and Drake, handled the instrumental, and it’s absolutely a highlight in that regard.
The UK Singer Expands Her Range on the Solo Cuts
While the features on this album speak to a step up in overall budget and production value, it’s more noteworthy the personal artistic growth that PinkPantheress puts on display with Heaven knows. “Ophelia” is a moment where it’s abundantly clear. While we’ve gotten plenty of unrequited love stories in her discography, the 8th track spins things in a classical direction, taking its name from Hamlet and its plotline from American Horror Story. “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 belts out in the opening moments, further delving into a genuine murder mystery as the song plays out.
“Internet baby (interlude)” is just as impressive for its conceptual commitment, rife with references to SDs and USBs and production quirks like glitch effects on the singer’s vocals and digital SFX baked into the instrumental. It’s also yet another moment where the credits are instructive towards the diverse cast of characters involved in the album, as London on da Track was behind the boards here.
Finally, if you were looking for some “old PinkPantheress,” “The aisle” would be the place to go. Unflinchingly bubbly in composition, the song also features some of the best vocals from the UK artist, lending a ton of replayability late in the tracklist.
With Heaven knows, PinkPantheress is showing the music industry that she’s the furthest thing from a flash in the pan, and you can be sure that she’ll be a force to be reckoned with for a while to come. You can find the album on all streaming platforms now.