Wolf Alice

Visions of a Life

Dirty Hit/RCA

Sep 28, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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On the first trip through Wolf Alice's sophomore album Visions of a Life, it sounds as though this London alt rock quartet doesn't know what direction to take or what type of band they want to become. Two years after making a big splash on the indie scene with tight rhythms and pop melodies on their debut My Love Is Cool, Visions is at once less immediate and more expansive.

After a few more spins it is evident that Wolf Alice has not lost any of the raw energy, punk swagger, and pop smarts from the debut. Most of the same ingredients are present but executed in unconventional ways that sometimes take time to be revealed. Overall the album has a heavier and perhaps a bit darker feel. The musical compass points in many different directions over the course of the album's 12 tracks, and while each direction is well played, it's apparent the band are reaching for something prodigious while showing off a confident maturity.

The main attraction remains Ellie Rowsell's vocals. She again shows off her chameleonic versatility by skillfully plying her craft. She is equally comfortable cooing in a tranquilizing voice that is heavenly, atmospheric, and lush, as she is snarling like a fierce riot grrrl or tripping out like an indie rock queen. Easily shifting through styles, she single-handedly creates moods and evokes an emotional tie with the listener. Unfortunately some of the lyrics haven't matured along with the songwriting, but the trite lyrics are easily erased by the atmospheric charm and the bouncy, snappy rhythms such as those found on standout track "Don't Delete the Kisses."

Other notable tracks include the slick "Formidable Cool," the dynamic "Sadboy," the soft and spacious "After the Zero Hour," and the epic eight-minute closer "Visions of a Life." Sonic pleasures are scattered throughout with soaring guitar chords and searing leads that are tempered with smooth interludes and sprawling backdrops. But as a whole, it's clear each member is pushing the envelope and exploring new avenues, which is what we should expect and want from a band with so much talent.

It can sometimes be a curse for a young band to make such an excellent first record, setting the expectation bar too high. But Wolf Alice is actually a seasoned group, having formed in 2010 and releasing many singles and a couple of EPs before their official debut album in 2015. Visions of a Life may be a somewhat inconsistent journey but it's also pure rock and roll splendor from a band that's super talented and not afraid to take chances. (www.wolfalice.co.uk)

Author rating: 9/10

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