Written By: Filip Teovanovic
Originality: (4.0 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (4.0 / 5) Lyrics: (4.0 / 5) Production: (3.0 / 5) Average: (3.8 / 5)
This was the year when I was frenetically anticipating two albums: Everything Now by Arcade Fire and Visions of A Life by Wolf Alice. These releases have one more random similarity – they were both preceded by four stylistically completely different singles. Arcade Fire’s material was relatively solid, although many did not appreciate their exploration of electronic niche, while Wolf Alice… Hmmmm, for now I will just hold on to their name: Wolf Alice. If you say Wolf Alice three times while looking in the mirror, you will start hearing their new album.
In the ocean of whimsical bands that recently emerged out of nowhere, there were not many who swept me off my feet like this group of four Londoners. They have that special something. I am a fool for young spirits who are inspired by the past, which is precisely what Wolf Alice do – delivering their vision of modern indie rock while looking back and without holding back. Hearing musicians not being hindered by inhibitions or commercial tendencies is admiring, especially in the streaming era.
Promotional singles showed that sky is the limit for Wolf Alice. The first one “Yuk Foo” was a pure anger release, while “Don’t Delete The Kisses” is a hit of the year that combines The xx with The Raveonettes into a memorable brit-pop chorus. “Beautifully Unconventional” is a retro rock number that seduced me after only one play, and it is still inevitable part of my waking up routine. The last single that dropped before the album release date, and also an album opener, “Heavenward”, represents an emotional shoe-gaze track. It turns out that “Yuk Foo” is the weakest of the bunch, but that still doesn’t mean it’s bad. It is just an evidence of how stellar the other songs are.
Good portion of the rest of the album is chasing the impressive opening. That is understandable considering that these four singles were designed to attract the audience to the new album. Such a sagacious move was necessary, because artists are aware of the second album curse. You either slay or you pack your instruments and go away. Wolf Alice have passed the test since they stepped away from their debut in the right direction. Visions of A Life is probably going to be on repeat on many player around the globe. The rest of the record is wrapped up in easier tones. For example, “Planet Hunter” sounds like space rock/post melody with artificially attached vocals. “Sky Musings” sounds like they were sharing studio with Arcade Fire while these were recording Everything Now because it is signature dark electro-rock jam. “Formidable Cool” resembles Kasabian, while “Space & Time” bursts from punk influences. I believe it can be their next single. “Sadboy” has massive shoe-gaze elements, and “St.Purple & Green” starts as a gospel before turning into stormy guitars homage to a grandmother. This sounds even better now that I wrote it down. “After The Zero Hour” is a middle ages freak folk in the style of Joanna Newsom.
Everything closes with title track Visions of A Life, a grungy-shoe-gaze song that reminds us why we fell in love with Wolf Alice’s first album. I can say with the utmost confidence that the wait was worth it. Visions of A Life is pretty eclectic album, different from its predecessor. Yet, there is not a single bad song, plus they managed to converge them into a coherent whole. It may take some time for the album to live up to its expectations (yes, it’s a grower), but it’s still one of the most powerful sophomore albums of the year. Wolf Alice are definitely building their reputation righteously. Those who loved My Love Is Cool will love this record as well.