If you’re reading this and you don’t know who Wolf Alice are it’s high time you climb out from that proverbial rock and get acquainted with one of Britain’s best up and coming bands. The band have played many high up slots at major festivals such as Reading & Leeds, Glastonbury and T in the Park, not to mention tearing through multiple sold out shows around the UK and the US, all before they’ve even released an album. After two highly acclaimed EPs and a mess of singles in between, Wolf Alice got together with producer Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Foals) and finally put out their long awaited debut album ‘My Love is Cool’.
With a back catalogue of songs ranging from grunge head bangers to folky acoustic anthems, Wolf Alice are a band that refused to be pigeon-holed, and with opening track Turn to Dust it appears they’ve subverted everyone’s expectations again. For the first time we hear a drum machine laying down the beat as eerie FX heavy guitars creep over the top, whilst Vocalist/guitarist Ellie Roswell delivers a chilling vocal performance. Soon after we’re treated to the re-worked version of Bros, which holds as a well-crafted indie-pop song brimming with catchy melodies and guitar lines. Whilst it doesn’t quite have the punch of the previously released single version, it does fit in better overall with the tone of the album.
One thing this record shows off is Wolf Alice’s ability to finely blur the line between melodic shoegaze and complete grunge mayhem. The crunchy guitars and heavy drums in Your Loves Whore make for a heavy rock song and yet still manage to sound relaxed and melodic, whilst Lisbon somehow conjured the feedback laced punk guitars of the 80s, maintaining the daydream-rock vibe present throughout the rest of the album. Although on the subject of heavy rock songs, token singles Giant Peach and Fluffy bring the noise in the best kind of way as the pounding bass and distorted guitars are bound to get even the most uptight feet tapping. Not to mention the pulsating chorus on You’re A Germ that’s just begging to be sung along to when Wolf Alice take to the Summer British Festival circuit.
On the other end of the spectrum, for the (mostly) mellow song Swallowtail, drummer Joel Amey takes vocals and provides a heart-felt acoustic ballad that slowly builds into a gentle indie anthem. He even manages to throw in a few falsetto high notes which, with the exception of Phil Collins, not many drummers can do. Continuing the laid back aesthetic, Freazy throws catchy guitar lines over a tight hip-hop drum beat which, when paired with the softly spoken vocals and rumbling bass, create layers of melodies that effortlessly weave together.
After last song The Wonderwhy we’re treated to a hidden track, which brings everything back to the basics. Consisting of nothing more than a stripped back electric guitar and jazzy vocals, it provides a reflective way to bring the album to a close. ‘Teach me, teach me rock and roll’ Ellie softly sings as the albums final chords begin to ring clear. If one thing is certain, on a record that’s teeming with expertly written grunge-pop songs, I feel that’s exactly what Wolf Alice have done.
By Matt Austin