Genre: Alt Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Pain,” “I must apologize,” “Just for me,” “Break it off”
Gen Z (elder member reporting in) nuked the world’s collective attention span with our proclivity for content. Our crowning achievement, TikTok, has a knack for the ephemeral laugh, but rarely produces artists with staying power—music is just about the last thing I go to the platform for. To my surprise, PinkPantheress is here to shatter my preconceptions of the platform as an incubator for artists with her undeniable, sample-oriented brand of bubblegum pop.
Opting for anonymity, little is known about the young musician. Here’s what we’ve got: she hails from Bath, England, she soft-launched her music career with cryptic TikTok snippets of songs that would later go on to form TO HELL WITH IT, and her videos suggest that she’s conjured lush breakbeats with nothing but a Focusrite and GarageBand. If the DIY ethos is still alive, PinkPantheress embodies it. Pulling from UK garage, jungle, and 2000s pop, she manipulates her source material, isolating beat patterns and changing tempos to breathe fresh life into the conventions of the UK dance scene.
Sincerity is a treacherous concept for those of us with brain rotted post-irony. Earnest breakdowns of relationship drama hardly ever garner praise from the self-assured art consumer. Through its pairing with spastic 130 bpm loops, PinkPantheress’ lyricism becomes direct and honest enough to warrant its simplicity. Lines like “Had a few dreams about you / I can tell you what we did” come off as an endearing pastiche of young love amongst the shuffling electronics, instead of the diary entry of a 16-year-old. She lends her bluntness to the days before widespread self-criticism. “The music was so unpolished and cool because I feel like people weren’t afraid of being a little bit cringe” she told i-D. By embracing her influences openly, she channels the tired early-2000s VHS aesthetic into something noteworthy and new.
Melodrama is a constant throughout the album. Her lyrics detail the melancholy of dead-end relationships and unrequited love with apathetic detachment. There’s an uncanny longing in PinkPantheress’ delivery that resembles that of hyperpop-adjacent artists like Sarah Midori Perry of Kero Kero Bonito or SOPHIE. The neckbreak production only occasionally has to pull more than its fair share of the weight, making the sting of “I followed you today / I was in my car / I wanted to come and see you from afar” hit without a hint of vomit. “Pain” even samples Sweet Female Attitude’s anthemic 2001 club hit “Flowers,” adding angelic vocals that glide across the slowed original instrumentation. Were it not for her vocals, PinkPantheress could slip this record into a Y2K London time-capsule without detection.
TO HELL WITH IT has more than enough style to outweigh its intermittent lack of lyrical substance. PinkPantheress has meticulously buffed the sheen of originality into nostalgia for an era that so-often feels trite after two decades of hindsight. It was a tall order. Thankfully, 18 minutes can house a lot of creative bandwidth in the digital age. TO HELL WITH IT is an instantly gripping convergence of generational influences; a love letter to the early aughts from the short-form babies.