Wolf Alice were never going to be a small time band. With their debut, My Love Is Cool, being nominated for the mercury prize, rave reviews and sell out tours across the UK and the world, the London-based quartet are well on their way to being one of our most valued musical exports of our generation. What follow up record Visions Of A Life does is almost certainly what we weren’t expecting.
Through the gritty yet pristine first record, we got to know a band full of angst, passion and a need to fight for what they believed in. But it’s immediately clear from opener ‘Heavenward’ that we’re about to meet Wolf Alice properly, and it was certainly destined to be the first track of the album. With a huge “here we are” statement bellowing out of distorted guitars and Ellie Roswell’s cherubic vocals, this really could be what heaven is like in the form of sound. It’s tame, but it’s monumental in a way that puts you in a position of wondering when the explosion is about to happen. It assembles the tone for the next 45 minutes, but gives nothing away.
Then, of course, Yuk Foo and Beautifully Unconventional come firing through, breaking down any walls that existed and destroying any preconceptions we may have carried forward from the debut. “No I don’t give a shit” Roswell innocently yells as we’re simultaneously bracing ourselves for what is about to happen. Though Yuk Foo was the first single to be released, it becomes clear that it works even better when it’s sandwiched between two chilled-out, more stripped back singles.
It’s songs like Planet Hunter and Space and Time that bring it all to life, though. With the latter revealing the gritty side to Wolf Alice once again, their coherent understanding of what shape Rock’n’Roll can take becomes clear. As their drummer, Joel, states in interviews, they have played around with what they can do, and it shows. The four-piece are showing themselves in a way that we have never seen before, even if there’s still a overlying sound that is carried across from the debut.
Get ready for the catapult to be set free and for the band of a generation to become even more important. If there’s one thing we can definitely take from Visions Of A Life, it’s that this is going to sound huge in venues like Alexandra Palace. It’s a story of several tales, but it’s a product that says “we know what the fuck we’re doing, and we’re doing it really well.”