‘Heavy Like a Headache’ — The Ninth Wave — Album review

If you don’t have a profoundly emotional response to a record by The Ninth Wave, I’d urge you to check your spelling — you can’t have typed in the right band name, and you’re playing something different. 

Since June 2019, when the Glasgow-based four-piece came to The Wardrobe, Leeds, to support YONAKA, they’ve been a mainstay among my music collection. The Ninth Wave are that reliable shoulder to cry on, but they’re also quick to provide a shot of adrenaline when you’re in a good mood. While they’re incredibly talented instrumentalists, you could argue that they’re poets, too. Every word is matched impeccably to each note, and you’re left with the very lump in your throat that they call out in ‘Maybe You Didn’t Know’. 

That killer single was released in the height of last summer and I’ve spun it again and again since, but now it sits, pride of place, as the second song on this new, 15-song album. It’s right that it should follow on from the tone-setting ‘Intro’, as it serves as a reminder of how this LP’s campaign began for the band. Mind you, if you eyeball the tracklist, you’ll notice ‘Everything Will Be Fine’, the buoyant, you-have-got-this piece that first rose to the surface a while ago. 

If you’re on the hunt for their quintessential pacy synth banger, let me direct you to ‘Heron on the Water’. It’s one of the obvious favourites from the previously unreleased lot, but its uptempo nature doesn’t leave you in bits — they save that ploy for later. While we’re talking standouts, though, it’s got to be ‘Some’. Of course, it’s lyrically poignant and addresses feelings of struggle, but it’s put to a decent, steady beat and you’ll be nodding your head along imminently. 

‘Piece and Pound Coins’, despite its dark and saddening theme, is still a clear winner. Those piano keys are just spellbinding. And the disturbing, haunting attributes of ‘What Makes You a Man’ still come to the fore. Further still, the fresher ‘Hard Not to Hold You’ doesn’t forgo any of its impact when mixed into the album environment here. 

So, here we go then — you were wondering, no doubt, how many paragraphs would pass until I brought up the elephant in the room. The dreaded hiatus. It’s nothing but bittersweet for fans that this album has arrived, because it means the end is nigh. There’s no cliff-hanger around what happens next; The Ninth Wave are revered, respected, celebrated, yet going on indefinite leave as an act. 

The second ‘Pivotal’ rings in, the realisation of that somehow becomes tangible. A bit overwhelming, actually. It’s strange. And the closing track, ‘Song for Leaving’, is a gut-wrencher as a result, too.

It’s a funny thing, trying to be jolly that great memories were made without letting it dawn on you that those days are done. But the slow, sleepy rhythm of the album’s finale really allows their departure to hit home. Props to the band for making us all puddles on the floor. 

But, do you know what? Aren’t we fortunate that they delivered us such a colossal bank of tunes before waving and walking into the sunset? The Ninth Wave are pioneers. No more, no less. Our ears have been better off for hearing every single verse.

If you only download one track, let it be: THE WHOLE BLOODY LOT

heavy-like-a-headache-the-ninth-wave-review-record-weekly
Original image via Spotify

Like what you hear? Play and purchase a digital copy of ‘Heavy Like A Headache’ on Amazon Music*. Prefer vinyl? You can grab a copy on Amazon*, too.

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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