London based rock band Wolf Alice released their romantic and noisy second album Visions of a Life September 29th, displaying growth as a band and a step in the right direction from their 2015 debut, My Love is Cool.
My Love is Cool debuted the quartet’s distinct sound as a mixture of pop rock and melodic folk style songwriting, but the band has fine tuned the sound and added a deeper contrast of many styles. The two years between releases were used wisely by the band, intensive touring, organizing charity gigs for refugees, and also performing at a concert protesting the U.K.’s current government on July 1. The activism and evolution as a band show through on Visions of a Life.
Visions of a Life begins with “Heavenward”, a driving but dreamy track that builds into a heavy ambient overlay of front woman Ellie Rowsell’s distinct vocals, a lynch pin in the band sound. The second track is a world away. “Yuk Foo”, the first single from the record, is a distorted, in your face hate letter to life itself, as Rowsell sings, “.. I wanna fuck all the people I meet/ Fuck all my friends and all the people in the street..”. The following track takes another turn to straight up pop rock. The twists and segues from genre to genre are not subtle, but the attitude and production allow the songs to flow together seamlessly. “Don’t Delete the Kisses” is a calm and dramatic love song, equipped with a conversational talking verse. “Sky Musings” also is very talky and conversational, but more broken and haunting. The rock sound returns with “Space and Time”, a raw and distorted track that leads the listener to the droney “Sad Boy”, that leads the listener back and forth from calm and simple to noisey and experimental. The soft and sweet tracks “St. Purple & Green” and “After the Zero Hour” follow, leading the title track and final song, an eight minute ride through all of what Wolf Alice are capable of, shifting the listener from low, distorted guitar and slow tempos to an aggressive fast tempo and back again.
The almost intentionally indecisive nature of Visions of a Life reflects the intense push and pull of life we all experience. Harsh and heavy times mixed with cool, calm conversation, dusted with a melody. The sound makes for a very thought provoking at home listen, and a great live experience so keep an ear out for the next time Wolf Alice hit the United States.