Mitchell McKee explores themes of birth and growth for Glasgow’s enigmatic duo.
The Ninth Wave’s new album, Infancy, to be released on the 15 November, consists of two parts. Part one was released earlier this year, and it gave fans a sense of the new direction of the band. Part two rounds it off and provides the finished product: a culmination of heartbreak, loss, failure, desire, resilience, and rebirth – all under the title of Infancy. Each song tells a story from the two leads, Hadyn Park-Patterson and Millie Kidd, primarily about their failed relationships and their struggle of being – and staying – individuals in a caustic society. The first song, This Broken Design, opens the album with these themes in mind. Hadyn sings, “beautiful smiles, and beautiful voices tumbling down. Well, they made their choices”. The initial words spoken on the album encompass the feeling of immense beauty in the world, but also the sadness and emptiness at its heart. This idea is developed in the distinct sound the band has honed over time: they’ve moved away from the dark tones reminiscent of Bauhaus and now combine light synths, driving guitar riffs and the ethereal voices of the two dream-like lead singers.
The next song, Used to Be Yours, has the refrain, “so incapable of being alone”, which seems to be the foundation for the rest of the album. The notable piece Human Behaviour, deals with the pain of heartbreak, and First Encounters contends with the thought of something new, but also with the fear and nerves that this creates. On Half Pure and Imitation, the heaviness and anger at a superficial society comes through with the fast-paced guitar riffs and biting lyrics, which is juxtaposed with the spacey, floating sonic landscapes constructed by A Wave Goodbye to the People Who’s Said I’d Win and Sometimes the Silence is Sweeter. The last three songs, Everything That You Have Left, Unspoken and Flowers into Wounds, are the new songs fans will experience on the release of this album. Flowers into Wounds opens with a stripped back piano, meaning that on the final song all is finally laid bare and the band are no longer scared or nervous to reveal what’s on the inside. Like the flower, they grow out of adversity and pain.
The concept of growth is something this album deals with head-on. I first saw The Ninth Wave In April 2017 in King Tut’s when they supported Blaenavon. I was absolutely enthralled from the moment I saw them, and thereafter I decided to avidly follow them. They continued to play smaller venues around Scotland, such as Wide Days in Edinburgh and The Poetry Club at SWG3, and their artistic culmination for that year happened in the Laurieston Arches where they played a sold-out gig in an archway. However, they were a completely different band back then. None of the members from that time remain, except for Hadyn, and neither do any of their songs. Now, two years on, we finally have an album – but why does it mostly contend with new starts and origins when the band have been going for this long? And even longer, if you consider the band’s busking days on Buchanan Street in 2014 (video evidence does, indeed, exist).
The reason for this is because artistic development and creation is a continual process. The Ninth Wave are not just a new band that have been glossing up fickle Spotify playlists for a few months. Instead, they have been through years of playing small venues, creative disputes with band members, experimental sounds, theft of instruments, style changes and (many) new haircuts. They have learnt and experienced many things through this development. This, therefore, is what the masterful and paradoxically titled album tries to communicate to its listeners: it’s only when you go through the heartbreak, pain and adversity that you grow into who you are. The Ninth Wave fully embrace this and we hope the band will continue to blossom and grow as they progress through their infancy.