Review: Wolf Alice — Visions of a Life

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 2:20 PM
Review: Wolf Alice — Visions of a Life by Livia Homerski

                                            Rating: ★★★★☆

My attention was brought to Wolf Alice when I heard singer Ellie Rowsell featured on “3WW,” released earlier this year by Alt-J, and was really intrigued by her style. I noticed Alt-J promoting Wolf Alice’s latest “Visions of a Life” and knew I had to give it a listen.

An alternative rock group from North London, Wolf Alice has toured with the likes of other British indie pop-rock powerhouses such as The 1975 and has met some well-deserved success. Wolf Alice marries grungy guitar effects from the 90s into modern pop-rock ballads with a raw energy on “Visions Of A Life.”

The strongest moments are scattered towards the second half of the album, but there was definitely a lot of experimentation in the song writing throughout the first half. Each song features a new sound or songwriting style.

The first track, “Heavenward,” has a title that excellently describes the airy vibe of this song. This is an example of one of the lighter songs on the album, but it still has a very 90’s alternative influence, a theme that is strong in the style of many songs throughout the album.

“Yuk Foo” was the angsty and in your face single released first for the album. This song reveals a more aggressive and fang baring side of Wolf Alice on the record. Featuring punky screaming and garage-rocky production, it's a song to pout to.

Just as "Yuk Foo" captures the more hardcore side of the album, “Don’t Delete the Kisses” captures soft youthfulness. There’s a little bit of everything vocally on this track from anthemic shouting in the chorus, slick low-talking, and watery vocals that shadow over the beginning of the track. Another layer lies in the self-awareness of the lyrics, which are an indulgent fantasy, as sweet and innocent as your first love.

The seventh track leads with a creeping bass line and low monotonous spoken verses dripping with condescension and crazed fervor. “Formidable Cool” is a tale alluding to a Charles Manson-like cult leader and the book “The Girls” by Emma Cline in a Twitter Q&A.

“Visions of a Life” closes out with its moniker, and wraps up the album with a knot of passionate and catharting tension. The guitars seem to be prowling forward, while the accents in percussion build the song to a big spiraling ending.

This album has enough moments of adventure and movement in the sound to keep it from getting too overdone. There are several fuzz and noise walls fading in and out of these 12 tracks, so it’s easy to question if you heard this already. The ambiguity carefully borders redundancy, and the subtle variety in writing Wolf Alice offers begins to shine through the leaves after a few more listens.

The quiet talking parts carry the lyrics in a different way than a vocal melody could; it seems more intimate and dreamy, two feelings that float through “Visions.” This is something I thought was done exceptionally well and have not heard done too often.

“Visions of a Life” certainly does pack a punch, and is a well-rounded sophomore album for the British group. I was not expecting to dig in, but the energy and artistry brought by the band seems brash but vulnerable, and presented as a set of dreams.

Standout Tracks: "Don't Delete the Kisses," "Sadboy" and "Visions of a Life."

Stream "Visions of a Life" below: 

Livia Homerski can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com.

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