One would have thought it impossible to surmount the quality of the music within Wolf Alice’s debut album, My Love Is Cool, but two years later they’ve brought out their sophomore effort, in an attempt to do so. Ellie Rowsell and co didn’t hesitate to bring back their recognisable grunge/folk sound, further than that – they developed it. On Visions Of A Life Wolf Alice push the limits of genre further than they have before, allowing dream-pop, shoegaze, punk and synth-pop to mesh and blend with their usual sound.
‘Heavenward’ is a soothing start to the album, enveloping us within the warm, swirling chordal guitar, perhaps reminiscent of the shoegaze style found on My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. This sound is found again in parts of ‘St. Purple and Green’, intermittently replaced with gentler acoustic guitar led moments.
‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ are perfect pop singles: each with well-crafted melodic hooks, brilliant and inviting instrumentals and intelligent but simple lyrics. Despite their similarities stylistically, they share little else. The former assumes the form of a jumpy 2000s indie-pop hit; the latter finds itself excitedly exploring the realm of dreamy-synth pop. Both ventures are to great degrees of success and will certainly go down as two of best pop songs of 2017.
‘Yuk Foo’ epitomises vitriol and aggression as the London four-piece rip through the punk tune in barely over two minutes.
‘After The Zero Hour’ is certainly one of the more understated tracks, yet also one of the most brilliant. The spacious guitar plucking harmoniously accompanies Rowsell’s airy but sugary vocals allowing the band to remember their earliest form as a folk two-piece.
The title track lets the band explore a variety of sounds, styles and ideas across its eight minutes, putting on show the individual ability of each band member.
Stampeding 2017 with an eclectic mix of punk, folk, dream-pop and more, Wolf Alice have escaped the trap of the notoriously difficult second album, and with style too. Visions Of A Life is certainly a contender for album of the year.
IMAGE: Paul Hudson, Flickr