In their new album ‘Visions of a Life’, Wolf Alice are as bold as ever, providing a new grungy sound whilst still maintaining their cinematic, nuanced approach to rock. This year has been particularly full on for the band, having toured their last album, ‘My Love is Cool’, for nearly two and a half years and been incredibly active politically during the election earlier this year (with lead singer Ellie Rowsell appearing in one of Labour’s campaign videos urging young people to register to vote).
Though Wolf Alice have clearly taken their music in a new direction in ‘Visions of a Life’, with heavy influences from Nirvana and Muse, there are various similarities with their last album, ‘My Love is Cool’, mainly through the structure of the album. Both ‘My Love is Cool’ and ‘Visions of a Life’ have mellow, cinematic introductions manifested in their first tracks ‘Turn to Dust’ and ‘Heavenward’, respectively, providing an eerie preface to the rest of the album.
The most noticeable difference in Wolf Alice’s new album from their debut ‘My Love is Cool’ is their grungy energy from their first single, ‘Yuk Foo’. Perhaps the boldest and most aggressive track on the album, ‘Yuk Foo’ certainly stands out to mark the extent of Wolf Alice’s active choice in changing sound. The abrasive high-fi guitar complimented by the harsh lyrics exhibit it as a tale of teen-like angst. This is cemented by its music video (reminiscent of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’), the strident sound being perfectly characterised by the video’s abrasive neon-induced punk haze.
Though a clear shift to a more grungy sound, ‘Visions of a Life’ also presents a variety of other styles. The track ‘After the Zero Hour’, in particular, is a softer, more folk-like song, reminiscent of the band’s earliest music. The twelfth track on the album, ‘Visions of a Life,’ provides a perfectly haunting end to the record; encapsulating its varying styles in eight minutes of an eclectic variation of sound.
Whilst manifesting a more aggressive sound, Wolf Alice still maintain their eerie lyricism, undoubtedly crystallised by lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s playful and performative voice. Having seen Wolf Alice twice, both touring their album ‘My Love is Cool’ at the 02 Academy Brixton in 2015, and at Boardmaster’s Festival in 2016, I’ve witnessed how their songs are manifested in a live atmosphere, and I think this album will lend itself perfectly to the energy of their live shows.