“Stand for the encore of Sisyphus’ sigh”: Pillow Queens’ ‘Name Your Sorrow’ Is a Heavy, Sweaty, & Seductive Indie Rock Reverie

Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister
Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister
Irish indie rock band Pillow Queens take us track-by-track through their bold, brutal, and breathtaking third album ‘Name Your Sorrow,’ a heavy, sweaty, beautiful mess channelling grief and pain into a thick, unrelenting, and irresistible musical heat.
Stream: “Like a Lesson” – Pillow Queens




Pillow Queens’ third album opens in the midst of a heavy, sweaty mess.

Guitars drone and drums churn as the Irish indie rock band channel emotional pain into a thick musical heat. “Tell me if I’m gonna wake up… Tell me how I’m gonna dissolve this body quicker,” Pamela Connolly sings, her voice white-hot on the mic, distressed and passionate and yearning for release as tension rises all around her. “If I’m gonna wake up, I just wanna learn to avoid this hairline trigger.” It’s a sonic and emotional fever dream; the wreckage after the storm. We’ve all been to that dark place, and Pillow Queens bring us back there once more on Name Your Sorrow, a bold, brutal, and breathtaking record of grief and growth, heartache and healing.

It’s a heavy, sweaty, beautiful mess the whole way through – and one that unapologetically dwells in the raw, vulnerable depths of the human experience, processing what it means to feel emotions so intensely; to hurt so badly; to lose yourself in someone else; and to find your way back from the darkness, into the light.

No I’m not sad, no I’m not sad, let’s just play some rock and roll music,” Connolly emphatically asserts in that first song. She’s lying through her teeth, and we all know it – but for 45 gritty, glorious minutes, Pillow Queens drown us in sound, turning that sadness and suffering into an all-consuming, cinematic, charged, and churning reverie.

Name Your Sorrow - Pillow Queens art
Name Your Sorrow – Pillow Queens
Already forgotten my name
I can’t recall who I am again
Safe enough to show your face
A body dipped
What a fall from grace
Tell me if I’m gonna wake up
Tell me how I’m gonna
dissolve this body quicker

If I’m gonna wake up
I just wanna learn
to avoid this hairline trigger…
I’ve forgotten the pain
So if you leave you’ll come back again
I’ve forgotten the pain
So if you leave you’ll come back again
You’ll come back again
– “February 8th,” Pillow Queens

Music can’t always take away our pain, but Name Your Sorrow will forever be a reminder that we’re not alone in the darkness; that every night does have its day; and that our hardships make us stronger in the end. Released April 19, 2024 via Royal Mountain Records, Pillow Queens’ third studio album is visceral, unfiltered, and uncompromising: The four-piece of Pamela Connolly (lead vocals, guitar, bass), Sarah Corcoran (vocals, guitar, bass), Cathy McGuinness (vocals, lead guitar), and Rachel Lyons (vocals, drums) harness our most fragile and intimate moments in twelve soul-stirring, larger-than-life songs processing turmoil and devastation.

It’s a stunning evolution of Pillow Queens’ artistry and sonic palette, arriving just two years after their critically acclaimed sophomore album Leave the Light On, which featured on Atwood Magazine‘s Best Albums of 2022: “While Leave the Light On lacks the local saturation of their debut, diluting their sense of place in favour of expanding their horizons, it succeeds in offering something universal and globally sound – a perfect showcase album,” Christine Costello wrote at the time.

Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister
Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister



Two years on, there’s no question that Pillow Queens know exactly who they are and what they want to be.

Brought to life with producer Collin Pastore (Lucy Dacus, boygenius, Illuminati Hotties) at Analogue Catalogue in Northern Ireland, Name Your Sorrow is confident and self-assured – dramatically abrasive when it needs to be, yet just as soft and smooth when the time calls for a gentler touch. Grief is by no means one-note; it comes at us in waves, and so, too, do Pillow Queens, who rise and fall gracefully like the tide, their songs washing over us to create a cathartic and singular experience.

Name Your Sorrow is about stages of love, loss, and grief, and how they can all exist alongside one another – intertwined, messy, beautiful – how both love and loss can coexist,” Cathy McGuinness tells Atwood Magazine. “We began recording this album in our recording space in East Wall in Dublin. We did not really have any preconceived notions of how the record should sound per se, we just knew we wanted to capture the feeling that we had at the time and on our own terms. There was a lot of life stuff happening which we weathered together in our rehearsal room. Sonically, I think everything we have done to date has made us arrive at Name Your Sorrow. The writing of this record has been the most personal and intimate experience of our Pillow Queens career.”

McGuinness considers this album to be one of intensity, loneliness and love.

“It was written in a very intensive environment which allowed us to really immerse ourselves in the music and the feeling,” she notes. “To me, it is the most rounded and cohesive body of work Pillow Queens has done. We spent so much time figuring out close harmonies, working on tones and textures. We ignored outside factors and just worked to our own timeline and to our own rules, always with the intention of capturing the essence of what this record is.”

Pamela Connolly seconds this sentiment, recalling how deeply embedded the band were in just making the best possible music they could, without any expectations or external pressures. “Making this record felt a lot like carving away at a stone not really knowing what our end sculpture would be,” the band’s lead vocalist, guitarist, and bassist smiles. “For Name Your Sorrow we just got lost in the process of making and carving things up to see how it all turned out. When it came to our previous record, Leave the Light On, which was also an enjoyable record to make, it was very end game driven.”

Connolly sees Name Your Sorrow as a vulnerable, raw, and cathartic journey.

Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister
Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister



While broken, mending hearts certainly played their part, Name Your Sorrow is equally the product of Pillow Queens’ growth as a band.

The sheer size and intensity of these songs reflect the larger stages the group have been playing in recent years, and a desire to make music that, loud or quiet, could fill those rooms with feeling.

“The band had been growing at a rate we were really excited by, Sarah Corcoran recalls. “Every time festival season rolled around we were playing bigger and bigger stages, and our headline shows were growing too. We wanted to honour this by creating a bigger sound, one which would match the size of the stages we were playing. We looked towards some of our bigger sonic influences – ones who were at home on stadium stages – and attempted to create our own sound on a stage that matched the grandiosity of theirs. This ambition grew and grew throughout the recording process, and we were lucky that our producer Colin Pastore had the same vision we did. We’re really proud of the record.”

Corcoran describes this record as introspective, grandiose, and earnest. The title, she explains, was inspired by a poem by Irish poet Eavan Boland. “Her poem ‘Atlantis – A Lost Sonnet’ tells the story of a city which has suddenly just disappeared forever, and how the feeling of having lost something which was once so present and effervescent can be so all-consuming. The last line in particular really resonated with us, being from a nation known for sweeping difficult times under the rug: And so, in the best traditions of where we come from, they gave their sorrow a name and drowned it.




Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister
Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister

From its dark and aching entrance to its hopeful, heartfelt finale, Name Your Sorrow proves a spellbinding journey of self-discovery, inner reckoning, and ultimately, release.

It may have started as a “breakup” record of sorts, but the end result is so much more intense, multifaceted, and nuanced – evoking deeper truths about our core identities, our innermost desires, and all that drives us onward through what can so often be a cold, cruel, and lonely world. These themes are borne out time and again on the road from “February 8th” to “Notes on Worth,” as Pillow Queens unpack tough topics, confront their demons, unleash their deepest, darkest emotions, and say the quiet parts aloud.

Highlights abound on a record that truly deserves to be heard from front-to-back in its entirety.

Corcoran, for her part, doubles down on the album’s two bookends, hoping listeners especially hear the opening track, “February 8th.” “We took a different approach to writing this one and I think it really comes across,” she reflects. “I think this song encapsulates where we’re at as a band right now and is a great starting point for someone coming to the band for the first time. ‘Tell me how I’m going to dissolve this body quicker’ is a lyric for all the true crime enthusiasts among us.”

“It’s quite different to the sounds we’ve worked with previously,” Connolly chimes in, “so I feel it sets you up to take in Name your Sorrow as its own individual piece of work.”




Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister
Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister

The fire Pillow Queens light on “February 8th” burns boldly throughout Name Your Sorrows’ ensuing eleven tracks.

McGuinness is quick to list the charming and churning “Like a Lesson” (which she calls “a really great introduction to Pillow Queens and our overall sound”) and “The Bar’s Closed” as two of her personal highs.

“‘The Bar’s Closed’ is a very tender song until the end where it becomes quite chaotic,” she says. “There are clashing sounds that emulate an emergency at the end of the track, at least that was the intention! I particularly love the harmonies on this track.”

The band most recently released the song “Heavy Pour” as the album’s final single; with its irresistible hooks, thrashy drums, and sweltering guitar work, it’s another favorite for Connolly, who runs herself ragged and pours her heart out while singing a haunting, heavy confessional: “Let me feel everything… I want more, but I’m not man enough, man enough.”

For all its unwavering turbulence and tension, Name Your Sorrow closes in a hopeful headspace, where the promise of a better day ultimately outweighs the burdens of past or present pain: “Suddenly you’re all I needed, craving that one night wife. I don’t wanna go home alone this weekend, I think I’m worth the time,” Connolly sings in a spirited chorus, as the whole band bends toward the light.

For Corcoran, that finale is the perfect sendoff. “[I love] the last two minutes of ‘Notes on Worth’ when the chorus speeds up and gives into the moment… [it’s] gorgeous,” she adds.



Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister
Pillow Queens © Martyna Bannister

For all the pain and suffering Pillow Queens packed into Name Your Sorrow, we invariably come away from this album feeling lighter than when we started.

True, this record is a heavy, sweaty mess – but even the worst mess gets cleaned up eventually. Through the heat, the passion, the pain, and the processing, Ireland’s preeminent indie rock band delivers us from suffering, and gets us moving and grooving, and singing our hearts out along the way. Their music is its own form of therapy; maybe we really should think twice when Connolly sings, “No I’m not sad, let’s just play some rock and roll music.”

For Pillow Queens, Name Your Sorrow is the new benchmark: A personal and emotional triumph – one that successfully showcases their collective and individual talents, all while packing an undeniable, instantly memorable punch.

“This record was a new challenge for us because we worked in an entirely different way than we’re used to, both in writing it and recording it,” Sarah Corcoran shares. “The process was super enjoyable and rewarding and we’re really proud of how it’s turned out. I think we all learned a lot, not just technically speaking, but also about our writing and recording styles, and our friendships with each other. We’re very excited for everyone else to experience Name Your Sorrow and hopefully connect with it in the same way we did.”

“I really hope listeners listen to the entire record in one sitting and in order,” Cathy McGuinness adds. “The tracklisting is very intentional and hopefully brings you on a turbulent journey, but leaves you with a hopeful end.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Pillow Queens’ Name Your Sorrow with Atwood Magazine as the band takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their third studio album!

— —

:: stream/purchase Name Your Sorrow here ::
:: connect with Pillow Queens here ::
Stream: ‘Name Your Sorrow’ – Pillow Queens



:: Inside Name Your Sorrow ::

Name Your Sorrow - Pillow Queens art

— —

February 8th

“February 8th” immediately flings the listener into themes of self-destructive behavior, numbness, and the desire to escape or avoid emotional pain. There’s a sense of detachment and a longing for relief, even if temporary, from emotional suffering, with a subtle hope for healing or return to normalcy.

Suffer

“Suffer” delves deep into the raw and turbulent emotions surrounding the unraveling of a once-cherished relationship. With soul-stirring lyrics and a melancholic melody, this song captures the ache of heartbreak and the struggle to let go. “Suffer” has sonic elements of Northern Soul music. It is a communal miserere or psalm for the oppressed, and the heartbroken and for those seeking resolve and mercy. It is a haunting and emotive exploration of love and self-deception. We wrote it in the depths of winter at our rehearsal studio in Dublin, and the cold really penetrates the song.

Like a Lesson

“Like a Lesson” longs for intimacy and a desire for closeness. The notion of finding safety and comfort in the presence of love of limerence is emphasized, contrasting with the paralyzing fear of making mistakes or ruining your life or someone else’s.

Blow Up the World

‘Caught it all
I can’t call my mam at all
I told her there’s nothing wrong
I just need to fall asleep’
“Blew up the World” observes the destruction, and fallout of a fractured relationship, creating a sense of emotional devastation and longing for resolution.

Friend of Mine

“Friend of Mine” speaks to the complexity of reimagining the connection between two people while also yearning for a hazy nostalgia of brief moments in the past.

The Bar’s Closed

“The Bar’s Closed” attempts to convey the act of trying to remain strong and emotionless during a time of deep hurt and betrayal. As the song progresses it becomes more resigned to accepting an overwhelming feeling of contempt

Gone

“Gone” is a song that looks into the vapid nature of brief romantic encounters and the hyperbole that can become so monotonous it makes you jaded.

So Kind

“So Kind” is an introspective song that considers an ongoing pattern of being too vulnerable. It’s a song that is realistic about the fact that kindness has not been protected but also aware that it’s going to continue not to be

Heavy Pour

“Heavy Pour” lays the foundation for a story of unshakable conviction in the face of doubt. At points it stands firm in the belief of a connection, even when others fail to see it. Heavy Pour tries to convey the intoxicating feelings that hold both this conviction, and a fear of being inadequate.

One Night

“One Night” evokes images of surrender, of succumbing to the alluring tide of desire. It’s a song that delves unapologetically into a physical and emotional connection.

Love II

“Love II” paints a picture of yearning and an avalanche of feelings during a time of intense vulnerability. It hopes that the hangover of recent experiences doesn’t taint the ability to be able to love without anxiety, but to no avail.

Notes on Worth

“Notes on Worth” is an intricate dance between the pursuit of fleeting connections and the search for something more meaningful. The repetition of “I don’t believe I gave enough” underscores the desire to give and receive more from these encounters.

— —

:: stream/purchase Name Your Sorrow here ::
:: connect with Pillow Queens here ::



— — — —

Name Your Sorrow - Pillow Queens art

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? © Martyna Bannister

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