All aboard the hype train; Pinkpantheress is driving, and she knows exactly what direction she wants to go in.
Every now and then, there's an artist that comes along that gets all the music editors excited. They'll be young, smart, their music will cover a variety of bases, and they may well be at the forefront of a new internet or social media trend.
There's no doubting Pinkpantheress ticks all of these boxes. Born in 2001, the London based artist has come to prominence over the last 10 months, utilising TikTok to astounding effect; from dropping clips of tracks into the void in December until "someone notices", to her song being sampled by a track hitting number four in the UK charts in July, her career so far has been as shortly effective and smartly curated as her songs. All whilst still studying film, and managing to maintain a degree of anonymity; her debut mixtape 'To hell with it', released on a major label, comes with a lot of external pressure and expectation - both from an industry of suits eager to hold on the coattails of the next youth phenomenon, but more importantly, of a young, savvy and diverse fanbase.
There is a simple reason why her music has captured the attention so quickly; it is very, very good. It also just happens to be music that absolutely captures much about current youth culture; her sound genre hops, picking pieces from UK garage, K-Pop, 2-step, and emo. Her use of samples is both sweetly nostalgic and knowingly urbane; from Sweet Female Attitude's UK garage classic 'Flowers' in Pain, through the 'Hybrid Theory' era Linkin Park on 'Last Valentines', to Pain's sample of the 90s drum and bass classic 'Circles' (which in itself sampled its hook from 70's jazz-funk classic 'Westchester Lady'), there's a complete lack of pretension here, mirroring a generation of music fans no longer divided by the tribal fan culture of the past. Pinkpantheress is younger than half of the samples here - she doesn't care if you were a mosher or a raver, she just knows if the music makes you feel good, then that's all you need.
But this mixtape is much more than just an astute collection of samples; her voice is a key ingredient here. Much like the UK garage vocalists of yore, her tone is sweet and clear, but with a conscious detachment, owing a debt to the likes of PC Music's Hannah Diamond and QT. Her melodies are catchy, simple, and effectual; while she might mine her Spotify library for musical ideas, there's no doubt she's capable of littering her songs with memorable hooks. The production too is fantastic; clean and uncluttered, it allows the multicolour palate of influences to shine through. And while the overall effect is both at once evocative and euphoric, it's also a much calmer and more sober experience than ketamine daze of vaporwave, or the MDMA whirl of PC Music.
It's exciting to hear an artist so assured at such an early stage of her career. Yet to play live, she's letting this project do the talking on its own terms. She's acknowledged that she's an internet kid, and this is truly an internet album - full of self-aware wistfulness and post-ironic references, it avoids the pitfalls of many other flash-in-the pan internet culture records by also being genuine; genuinely nostalgic, genuinely sweet, genuinely interesting, and genuinely great.
Words: David Weaver
- - -
- - -