Photo by Zheyu Shan
Gothic post-punk, electro-pop, or indie rock—it is hard to put a single label on The Ninth Wave. Having been highly praised by other press, including the BBC and Vice, the music of this Glasgow-based four-piece is reminiscent of the 80s New Wave style, yet the band still bring their own unique voice to the indie music scene. Having initially begun as a duo with singer and guitarist Haydn Park-Patterson and singer and bassist Millie Kidd, the band grew into a quartet as Kyalo Searle-Mbullu joined on keys and Calum Stewart on drums. Their tight friendship and alignment in creative ideas have undoubtedly created an unusual chemistry that generates fresh sounds. Following the release of their debut album Infancy in 2019 and EP Happy Days! in 2020, the band produced their sophomore album Heavy Like a Headache, which was released on the 18th of March 2022. It comprises fifteen tracks, including an intro and interludes. It has a mixture of cheerful and anguished songs, which explore diverse personal emotions from optimism to loss and hesitation.
Heavy Like a Headache is regrettably the band’s final album planned, as their members have decided to take an extended break after making music together for the past six years. Their London show took place at Oslo Hackney on the 17th of March, just one day before the album’s official release. This last ever show in London was much more than a stunning showcase of their new project—it was also a grand farewell celebration with the band’s devoted fans. That in mind, the four-piece opened the night with the wistful song, ‘Maybe You Didn’t Know.’ The song incorporates heavily textured synths with Haydn’s yearning voice that leads up to an addictive chorus. It is in many ways a tone-setter of the band’s newest release.
Along with family favourites like ‘Reformation’ and ‘Used to be Yours,’ the band previewed many of their new songs at Oslo Hackney. The third track, ‘Heron On The Water,’ is one of them. Its hazy guitar riff sets in motion a sorrow-charged song. Loaded with swoons and soars, the track reaches its climax when Haydn cries the line ‘I can’t keep from thinking that I need convincing / I know what I’m thinking but I need convincing,’ that speaks to the inner insecurity within all of us.
One of the highlights of the night was definitely the band’s performance of ‘What Makes You a Man,’ the tenth track of the new album. Hadyn’s forceful hits on the drum at the centre of the stage immediately sparked the crowd into action, while Millie’s falsetto veiled the performance with a dream-pop etherealness. The song’s texture was further built up by Kyalo and Calum as they drove the hypnotic synths and industrial beats to full speed. The song itself uncovers wounds from a toxic relationship, where the woman experiences fear and confusion: ‘And I will feel the shame that you don’t feel / And I won’t feel the same now this is real,’ goes the swelling chorus. ‘How much can you take ’fore it breaks you?’—the song asks, ultimately becoming an interrogation of the man’s fragile masculinity.
The night only got better as the band put on sweat-dripping performances of ‘Come Down Forever’ and ‘I’m Only Going to Hurt You,’ both of them songs from their EP Happy Days!. The venue was soaked with the palpable energy coming from on-stage and off-stage, with the audience partaking in vibrant singalongs. The crowd unleashed unrestrained excitement as the band paid a tribute to their greatest hit, ‘This Broken Design,’ before moving on to their closing anthem, ‘New Kind of Ego.’As everyone sang the line ‘Facing all of them, / But all of them are you,’ the mosh pit went into a state of frenzy, celebrating The Ninth Wave’s one last show in London with pure joy. All of the fans who were lucky enough to catch them on this final tour were in for an absolute treat.
Edited by Talia Andrea, Deputy Music Editor