Track of the Day: Pillow Queens – Liffey

A few years ago, Ireland was bubbling with sociopolitical controversy. True, it still has it’s political upheavals, but at that time the referendum to repeal the illegality of abortion was in progress, the homosexual marriage referendum had been passed, and the country was recovering from a recession. No picnic in the park, but from the distressing ashes came Pillow Queens. Melding alternative rock with indie-folk, Cathy, Pam, Rach and Sarah joined forces to create a unique, genre-defying sound for the masses. The latest addition to their discography is their debut album In Waiting.

While Pillow Queens only released their debut album this year, they have already gathered a loyal following and reputation as an iconic Irish group in the queer and DIY music scenes. Thanks to coverage from NPR, FADER, NME and Paste, as well as their performances with Pussy Riot and IDLES, Pillow Queens is building a name for themselves on an international scale. Now, they’ve found their way to The Other Side Reviews as a Track of the Day artist.

Known for composing poignant tracks touching on sociopolitical issues like inequality, capitalism and consumerism, Pillow Queens aim to engage with their listeners on a deeper level. However, while the content is controversial, the group adds a sense positivity, sincerity and strength to the mix. ‘Liffey’ is the fifth single off the ten-track In Waiting and spews messages of self-acceptance, empowerment and eagerness.

While the lyrical content of ‘Liffey’ is emotional and engaging, it is the melody that grabbed me. Combining steady drums with dynamic guitars and bold vocals, ‘Liffey’ is a laid-back and enchanting single. What I find most interesting in the track, and from Pillow Queens in general, is their ability to create contemporary music with a constant integration of a traditional Irish sound. ‘Liffey’, in particular, embraces a grunge sound but incorporates the Gaelic folk elements ala The Corrs and The Cranberries. Add some Sinead O’Connor-esque vocals and you have a sensational single at your fingertips.

To celebrate the release of ‘Liffey’, Pillow Queens collaborated with visual artist David Balfe to create a unique accompaniment for the track. Reaching out to their family, friends and fans to submit photographs of themselves, Balfe incorporated the self-portraits to create a stunning music video.

“The whole thing for me is this video being an effort to maximise direct engagement with fans which is a beautiful thing to do and also really beneficial… I think this kind of video is one of the few alternatives in place to make film pieces fully socially distanced while engaging with the human form and not just fully falling into the realms of animation. At its heart, the video is a re-imagining of the story of Medusa building from its mythology and offering an alternative and contemporary take on it. Tying together the real and surreal into an immersive and psychedelic look at modern isolation in uncertain times.” – David Balfe (video director) on ‘Liffey’ music video

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