A bolder and more psychotic statement of intent.
Founded in 2010 as a two-piece in London consisting of just Ellie Rowsell
and Joff Oddie, Wolf Alice have anything-but confined themselves to the acoustic-folk constituting their early musical roots. The additions of Joel Amey
(drums) and Theo Ellis
(bass) gave the band new dimensions to explore, allowing them to experiment and incorporate grunge and some synthesised elements into their music, with 'Moaning Lisa Smile' (2014) impressively peaking at number nine in the Billboard alternative songs list. Wolf Alice therefore appeared to be well placed in the run up to their debut album, 'My Love Is Cool' (2015), which was not so co-incidentally released to positive acclaim. Furthermore, with Royal Blood also emerging as an exciting entity, some critics could be accused burying themselves in a wave of hype at the prospect of rock making a much-anticipated return to the heights of the music charts. 'My Love Is Cool' went on to peak at number two in the UK album charts and geld a position in the top forty for two weeks (OfficialCharts.com), which is not exactly a replication of the impact of 'Definitely Maybe' (1994), however it still marks an impressive first outing nonetheless.
'Visions Of A Life' (2017), as conveyed by the dreamlike cover which plays heavily on the innocence of youth, was obtained Rowsell's childhood tendency to become locked into profound rumination as to what the future contents of adult life could consist of (NME, 2017). It could be argued that there may not be a more potent theme for the band to be exploring; in times of prolonged economic uncertainty and youth frustration having been sold a series of false expectations by the face of consumerist fetishism and politicians continuing to forge a career out of lying in pursuit of their own ambitions. As Tyler Durden, the iconic protagonist in Fight Club (1999) famously said: 'we were promised we'd be movie stars and rock gods, but we're not, and we're very p*ssed off' and this is precisely the attitude that Wolf Alice have sought to encapsulate as a response.
The feral overdrive of lead single 'Yuk Foo' is exemplar to this and Rowsell, as she provokes with 'Am I a b*tch to not like you anymore? Punch me in my face, I won't even fight you no more', remarkably mirrors the timbre of Beth Gibbons in Portishead's noisy self-titled (1997) follow up to Dummy (1994) but with intentionally less poeticism. 'Heavenwood' opens the album showcasing the profound nineties shoegaze and dream-pop fusion heavily present in 'My Love Is Cool', which 'Planet Hunter' and St. Purple and Green' also do to great effect. 'Don't Delete the Kisses' and 'Sky Musing', allows an icy and ambient side to the band to emerge to reach new heights of delirium, as Alice delves deeper into the Wonderland of her intuition; the latter with regards to production could also be compared to some of Trent Reznor's industrial works in Nine Inch Nails, to project her hysteria as she continues to lament in despair whilst continuing to grow assuredly infectious through her distinctive and borderline psychotic allure. 'Sadboy', one of the most exciting contributions to the album, offers a slight return the band's indie foundations in the form of a Rubber Soul rodeo, combined with an atmospheric guitar section that Ennio Morricone or Sergio Leone may have been keen to incorporate in their Spaghetti Western works.
In respect of the head-banging peaks met in 'Giant Peach' in the previous album, the fuzzy and quasi-doom-metal coated 'Visions Of A Life' may have been the track some fans were hoping for and one that possibly best represents the band as one continuing to make their mark as a versatile rarity in British music amongst the mediocrity that surrounds them. Yet insofar as representing the unheard millennial voice that have been all so easily left behind, which 'Visions Of A Life' was crafted to encapsulate and illustrate, Wolf Alice may turn out to be equally as significant as anyone claiming to answer their call for radical change. However as with the nature of grunge per se, as the establishment grows so does the feral madness serving as the engine of their musicianship; time will tell to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Wolf Alice play Ulster Hall
, Belfast in November.