Album of the Week: Wolf Alice | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, July 7th, 2020  

Album of the Week: Wolf Alice

Visions of a Life Out Now via Dirty Hit/RCA

Sep 29, 2017
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Brandon Flowers, of The Killers fame, was recently lambasted in some indie-blog circles for claiming in a recent interview with Noisey that rock bands haven't gained a commercial traction comparable to their own lately because there "hasn't been anybody good enough." This is a silly comment for a lot of reasons, primary among them that surely hundreds of young, hungry musicians are good enough for huge success. Wolf Alice's intense, passionate sophomore album Visions of a Life should label the rock band Candidate Number One. It was clear from their stellar 2015 debut My Love is Cool (which I gave high marks for this very publication) that this band had lofty ambitions and the talent to back them up.           

To these ears, it's incredibly refreshing to hear a rock band in 2017 with arena ambitions and seemingly none of the pretentions that often go hand-in-hand; a band whose genre needs no prefix. After all, Wolf Alice play straight up Rock Music, and all over Visions, their mastery of the style is made crystal clear. Of course there are elements of dream pop ("Don't Delete the Kisses," "Sky Musings"); punk, as on the snarling kiss-off of a lead single "Yuk Foo"; sprawling psych-rock on the shifty "St. Purple & Green" and the eight-minute closer "Visions of a Life"; and pitch perfect shoegaze on opener "Heavenward." But everything is presented with a slick production that is never overdone, and tied together by magnetic frontwoman Ellie Rowsell's strong, distinctive vocals. Rowsell deserves tons of credit for being a lead singer who understands dynamics: one minute she's screaming profanities at the world, the next she's whispering insecurities dreamily into your ear, and later she'll bust out a gorgeous, understated folksy croon.

Contrary to the common fears about successful artists' difficult second records, Visions is leaner and much more focused than My Love is Cool, with twice as much attitude. For evidence, consider two of the advance singles, "Yuk Foo" and "Beautifully Unconventional." These two tracks appear side by side on the album, and each tops out at two minutes and thirteen seconds. "Yuk Foo" is furious, lighting a fire that rages as long as it needs before burning out. "Beautifully Unconventional," meanwhile, is one of the poppiest songs here, with an infectious groove that you'll be singing long after its short runtime is over. More focused as well is the album's sequencing: where My Love tended to meander, each track on Visions is a natural progression of the previous track, and the album flies by. As an album it's more upbeat, louder and angrier.

There's a newfound lyrical cohesiveness, too. From the emotional "Heavenward," about the death of a loved one, to the romantic, shy "Don't Delete the Kisses," to the epic title track, this album seems to be pleading: don't take life for granted. Take chances to live while you can. All in all, I'm pleased to report that Visions of a Life enhances many of Wolf Alice's talents as shown on their promising early work. It's exciting to find them still passionate, still adventurous, not to mention a new focus and deepening of their aesthetic. 

Also read our rave 9/10 review of Visions of a Life.

 

 

 

Wolf Alice Tour Dates:

European Tour Dates:

October:

27 Paris, La Maroquinerie
28 Brussels, Botanique/Orangerie
30 Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg

November:

01 Hamburg, Mojo
02 Koln, Luxor
03 Amsterdam, Melkweg
08 Bristol, O2 Academy
09 Manchester, O2 Apollo
11 Glasgow, Barrowlands
13 Newcastle, 02 Academy
15 Nottingham, Rock City
16 Birmingham, O2 Academy
17 Norwich, UEA
18 Leeds, O2 Academy
20 Brighton, Dome
21 Southampton, O2 Guildhall
24 London, Alexandra Palace
27 Belfast, Ulster Hall
28 Dublin, Olympia

North American Tour Dates:

December:

12/1 - Danforth Music Hall - Toronto, ON
12/2 - L'Astral - Montreal, QB
12/4 - Brooklyn Steel - Brooklyn, NY
12/7 - The Met - Pawtucket, RI
12/8 - 9:30 Club - Washington, D.C.
12/9 - Trocadero Theatre - Philadelphia, PA
12/11 - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA

Read our Best of 2015 article on Wolf Alice. Also read our earlier 2015 print article on Wolf Alice, as well as our 2015 Pleased to Meet You Spotlight article on Wolf Alice.

www.wolfalice.co.uk

Album of the Week Runner-ups (Also Released This Week):

Ibeyi: Ash (XL)
Loney dear: Loney dear (Real World)
Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent (Domino)
The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die: Always Foreign (Epitaph)
TORRES: Three Futures (4AD)
Kamasi Washington: Harmony of Difference (Young Turks)

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