Death appears many times across ‘Heaven knows’, but as expected, comes hidden in cutesy, upbeat two-minute hits. The slow burning of a doomed relationship - and an inability to let go of ensuing entanglements - begets an existentialism best symbolised as a grievous journey into the afterlife, where PinkPantheress lands only in purgatory. Her debut full-length proper is that, but over slick lo-fi garage and dream pop, as if a Y2K Shakespeare were musing on sticky sweet star-crossed love amid metaphors for abandonment on a bedazzled Motorola Razr.
Its title draws direct lineage to 2021 mixtape ‘To Hell With It’, but ‘Heaven knows’ elevates the full scope of PinkPantheress - the artist and entity - beyond a heady viral fame origin. It’s a sort of re-rebirth into the genre-slippery, emo-meets-jungle nature that brought her accolades, yet PinkPantheress’s scope does not betray that original saccharine UK garage niche, nor her penchant for earnest, bitesize emo-like hits, especially when taking nosedives into unexpected terrain.
It’s almost undetectable, since much of the artist’s staple cybercore remains - she stays at the helm of a bold resurgence of noughties Brit aesthetics, all the while expanding upon her one-size-fits-all allure. In playing with ‘90s hip hop on ‘Feel complete’, she ups the energy, while the spooky ‘80s synths on opener ‘Another life’ feel completely unexpected. Later, a familiar McFly melody is a caricaturish but pleasing throwback on ‘True romance’, and Robyn-style noughties nu-disco on album high ‘The aisle’ showcases a previously unseen pop sheen to the singer. And to ignore her standout performances with Kelela on the gooey and guttural ‘Bury me’ and the Charli XCX-indebted ‘Blue’ would be criminal. Meanwhile, adding alt-pop credibility to an already thrilling debut is the backing from a host of leading pop artisans; Danny L Harle, Mura Masa, Count Baldor and Oscar Scheller all perfectly splice their perspectives with the record’s super-sweet hyperbolic melancholia. It feels like a renaissance of sorts - a reanimation of noughties UK garage with extra pop sewn in - not only of genre, but of the artist herself. ‘Heaven knows’ pushes PinkPantheress into new realms of utter brilliance