To make Leave the Light On, the second full-length album from Dublin’s Pillow Queens, the band looked towards introspection. It’s a lonely record, evoking feelings of late night drives on back roads where you digest the day and quietly change lanes. Make no mistake: loneliness doesn’t mean alone, necessarily. On Leave the Light On, the band’s first record with Royal Mountain, loneliness is a warm space to reflect, to meditate. To quote the writer Maggie Nelson in her experimental work of auto-theory Bluets: “When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.” Leave the Light On is a record not of longing but of light. It glows in tungsten. It is a record of queer dream blues.
Leave the Light On comes at a time where things are rapidly accelerating for the band, which consists of Pamela Connolly, Sarah Corcoran, Rachel Lyons, and Cathy McGuinness. After the success of their first record, 2020’s In Waiting, Pillow Queens went on to play bigger venues, festivals, and played James Corden. Music became a full time occupation for the band. At a point where most artists would get less personal and inward, Pillow Queens did the opposite. Leave the Light On is their most inward-focused release to date. It’s also a record about exploring the unknown, and for yearning.
Just take a song like “Hearts and Minds,” as one such offering. It’s a song about being perceived, by yourself, and by everyone else around you. It’s about feeling like a teenager again. And it feels anthemic, tinged by C86 power pop and varicolored harmonies. “Well I’m not fixin to move/I’m atrophied from winning over all these hearts and minds,” sings Connolly in her pristine and muscular voice.
The record is also a sonic departure for the band. Leave the Light On sounds huge, but also soft and intimate. It encourages a sense of duality—it is a record you can blast and a record you can also listen to on headphones in a moment where you just need to be alone with your thoughts.“Well Kept Wife,” is sparse, with iridescent guitars and crystalline bass. It takes inspiration from the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, and the appeal of the banal and the everyday. Meanwhile “My Body Moves,” feels like a heartbreaking spark, a lift, it makes you want to dance and hold on for dear life. “Is it cool if I hold onto/Every inch of you/Till my skin turns blue.”
Leave the Light On is an inherently collaborative piece of work. Recorded in the Spring of 2021, the band wrote over the course of three months, and then went into the studio to work with producer Tommy McLaughlin, who the band worked with on In Waiting. The record came together quickly and naturally, becoming the most realized Pillow Queens release to date.