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Heavy Like A Headache is a fitting swan song from The Ninth Wave

"Heavy Like A Headache"

Release date: 18 March 2022
23 March 2022, 08:59 Written by Ims Taylor
It’s not ordinary to build hype for the release of your record with a breakup announcement – but for The Ninth Wave, it serves to inject Heavy Like A Headache with a new magnitude.

Heavy Like A Headache oscillates sometimes painfully between its two halves. It’s split into songs that are euphoric, industrially huge, and upbeat, and songs that are dark, bleakly ominous, and sonically intense. The Ninth Wave handle both sides well, and the sense that both halves of their sound are kind of fighting each other gives the album its emotional core – but it doesn’t make for a smooth listen.

The standouts are The Ninth Wave at the best they’ve ever been – exhilarating, massive, with a hint of darkness bubbling underneath, elevating them that bit further. "Everything Will Be Fine", the lead single, is one of these standouts and since The Ninth Wave have announced their indefinite hiatus, now feels even stronger. Everything will be fine, as the band close this chapter off with a promise and a showcase of everything they do well. Also in this category are the soaring "Maybe You Didn’t Know", the fittingly titled "Pivotal" which serves as an emotional fulcrum for the latter half of the record, "Heron On The Water" and "Hard Not To Hold You" – all the singles, with a choice few others.

Because the singles are in their own league for the most part, the rest of the record struggles to find its thread. Where the best tracks here celebrate the unique sound that The Ninth Wave have built, there are moments that feel more like confusion – "These Depopulate Hours", for example, packs some of the album’s most intriguing textures, but doesn’t continue that exploration further. Similarly, the title track could be atmospheric and haunting, but instead it tails off before it reaches any of the peaks it hints at.

"Song For Leaving", even more evocative now that it's potentially the closing theme for The Ninth Wave, is an exception to this rule. Showing off the intricacy – the moodiness and magic – the band are so excellent at creating, and building to the heights promised on earlier tracks, it’s the perfect note to end on. It doesn’t feel quite final, but it feels like an appropriate moment to pause.

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