Pinkpantheress – Heaven Knows review: a chance to stop trending on TikTok and offer something more substantial

Pinkpantheress Heaven Knows (Warner)
Pinkpantheress Heaven Knows (Warner)

Last year, Pinkpantheress appeared on a song on Beabadoobee’s album called Tinkerbell is Overrated. That title could double as a mean online comment about an artist who rose from lockdown TikTok virality to a major label record deal and chart success without actually releasing very much music.

With her breathy, kawaii singing style and light touch approach to dance music, the Bath-born former film student does sound as if she could be the voice of an animated fairy.

She has proved one of the most adept in pop at repeatedly appealing to TikTok users’ goldfish attention spans – why write a whole song when you can drop one bright chorus and run? In 2021 her first mixtape, To Hell With It, raced through 10 tracks in 18-and-a-half minutes. Her mystery, concealing her face and her real name in the early days, increased the attraction.

Now, on her debut album, she has a chance to offer something more substantial, stop trending and build something that lasts. That means that two songs among the 13 here stretch out for justover three minutes each, and that she has emerged from her bedroom to employ significant co-writers including eclectic Guernsey producer Mura Masa, PC Music man Danny L Harle and one of pop’s most prolific hitmen, Greg Kurstin. The latter was involved with Mosquito, a weightless tune with a skipping garage beat that seems like a love song but on closer inspection, turns out to be anode to money.

Elsewhere, she branches out from her nostalgic dance-pop sound to try on a few new looks. Another Life opens the album with grandiose organ notes and includes a robotic verse from Nigerian singer Rema. Ophelia mixes a twinkling harp sound with rockier drums, plus lyrics about drowning that sound more disturbing for being sung in that meek voice. The Aisle has more energy, with a more prominent beat and a pleasant disco feel.

The west London rapper Central Cee is here too, on the easygoing Nice to Meet You, presumably returning a favour after he sampled Pinkpantheress on his hit single Obsessed With You. Boy’s a Liar Pt.2 wraps up the brief journey, her first US hit partly thanks to its guest verse from the buzzy New York rapper Ice Spice.

It sets her up nicely to go in any number of directions on a second album. There’s enough variety here to make Heaven Knows feel less like the flimsy musical popcorn of her past work, and most importantly, she continues to write tunes that stick.