Wolf Alice - Visions Of A Life
Wolf Alice’s second album is at times indescribable, its always flirting between genres whilst somehow remaining an utterly compelling listen, it is a rare record that constantly drags you in, daring you to get lost in it.
On their 2015 debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’ Wolf Alice consistently flipped through different genres and styles, their sophomore follow up ‘Visions Of A Life’ is no different in that sense, the album itself lacks a linear feel, instead opting like it’s artwork to focus on snapshots of memories, these stories are scattered throughout the 12 tracks. each one completely different but all are bound to appeal to a different listener.
A perfect example of this is the powerful grunge fulled ‘Yuk Foo’, with Ellie emphatically screaming it’s opening lyrics ‘you bore me! you bore me to death, I don’t give a s**t!’, it feels as if the disgust she’s yelling is aimed straight at you, the track hits you immediately, making you feel like someone has just come along and punched you in the chest, all of a sudden the track is fading into ‘Beautifully Unconventional’, it’s the polar opposite, the almost sultry song could see Ellie practically swapped out with Lana Del Rey, it’s very 50’s influenced with its rhythm and pace but the stylisation of the guitars and drums keep it firmly rooted in 2017’s, an interesting mix of time and styles, that Wolf Alice have managed to merge effortlessly.
'Don’t Delete The Kisses’ is easily one of the best songs of the year, unlike the snappy tracks that preceded it, Wolf Alice take a sharp left turn with a sprawling sonic marvel, lyrically it’s the strongest the band have been and Ellie’s tale of awkwardness and wanting to love but not being able to mentally bring herself to, are not just relatable but hardly touched upon in modern music, especially from a female perspective, her tale is full of creative and inspired lyrics like “I might as well write all over my notebook that you rock my world!” in which her voice takes a slightly higher and giggly tone similar to that of a besotted teenager, she also touches upon the hardly mentioned subject of millennial anxieties “I’m trapped, overthinking and yeah, probably self-doubt” she softly whispers into your ear.
The record switches it all up on you once again with ‘Planet Hunter’ showing the band at their most reflective yet, the mix of light synths and heavy grunge styled guitars draw you in but in fact it’s Ellie’s lyricism that keeps you enthralled throughout the track, the way she mixes in the subject of a wild and crazy New Years Eve with the desire we all have for that one perfect night to never end is inspired. The album has a few concurrent themes throughout however which seem to be those ofgrowing old, losing your loved ones and all the anxieties young people have yet rarely confide in with others, the track ‘Sky Musings’ takes this last theme to the extreme, immediately making you uneasy as Ellie talks about those quiet fears resting in the back of your mind that maybe… just maybe today, your plane will end up falling out of the sky, a pair of songs that really show a band at their most vulnerable.
Of course the rest of the band have stepped up their game considerably, none more so than in ‘Space & Time” which perfectly showcases Wolf Alice at their rowdiest, with Joff, Theo and Joel giving it their all, each of the guys taking their own individual moments to shine, almost instantly It’s not hard for you to see why and how this has quickly become such a fan favourite tune, it’s as wild as ‘Yuk Foo’ but that raucous underlying drumbeat transforms the song into a crazy stadium-filling anthem, It lacks some of the other tracks lyrical complexities but more than makes up for it with pure passion, it’s bound to cause riots in live sets.
One song that really hit home hard, however, is the deeply personal ‘St. Purple & Green’, It can’t have been easy for Ellie to put her feelings about her Nana’s dementia into words but the resulting track is heartbreakingly emotional, an interesting choice, however, is the bands inspired decision to not just create a traditional ballad, instead they’ve opted for a more resistive and defiant song, this impassions the tale with life, giving it, that extra bit of power it needs for the emotion to really hit home.
It’s fair to say the back end of the album is more low beat and progressive with a more expansive feel to each of the longer closing songs, it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of its first half but in terms of showing Wolf Alice’s progression it displays just how eager the group are to grow and experiment, such as in the nearly 8 minute closing title track, which showcases some of the best instrumentation the band have composed to date, at no other point in their discography have they managed to match this combination of noise and restraint, their guitars, bass and drums engulf you whilst at the same time managing not to overload you.
Wolf Alice’s creativity is seemingly endless and just like their debut this record will end up both surprising many listeners, even their current fans, Ellie closes the album out with a poignant message “My journey ends when my heart stops beating”, a perfect summary for Wolf Alice, a band that seems to be ever changing and growing with each release. I can't wait to see where their journey takes them next.