Wolf Alice

My Love Is Cool

Written by: TL on 09/07/2015 14:03:05

The young British quartet Wolf Alice has grown steadily in fame as the kind of band that's been blogged about frequently at home in England, to the point where they've been selling out sizeable London venues even prior to the recent release of their debut album "My Love Is Cool". So is the hype justified? The answer is that it is, to some extent at least, primarily because the album's eclectic mixture of elements makes for a whole that does indeed sound stylistically fresh and unique.

Starting with "Turn To Dust", things get going on an eerie, folksy note, yet the single "Bros" quickly takes a turn into more dreamy, indie-pop territory sounding a bit like something that could've been on a Pains Of Being Pure At Heart record. The trip round the cabinet of ideas continues right away however, with "Your Loves Whore" blooming patiently to a more powerful size, before arriving at a reverberating climax that feels a bit like a more laid back version of The Joy Formidable. Guitarist and lead singer Ellie Rowsell mainly has a hazy way of singing songs soaked in motifs of adolescence, awkwardness and gradual loss of innocence, a bit like she's chanting to herself more than anyone else. That's why there's a certain sense of satisfaction in making it to the top of "Your Loves Whore", where she finally raises her voice and seems to face the audience.

"You're A Germ" follows with a threatening, Pixies-like mood, with a chorus that screeches indulgently on top of grungy, distorted guitars, arriving at the far end of Wolf Alice's stylistic spectrum, opposed to the cocooned folk of the album's beginning. And so far so well, because each song at this point has seemed to offer something to write home about. Where the album's sequencing has thus far felt like a careful journey, however, from "Lisbon" and onwards, it feels a bit like the cupboards have been flung wide open as the band proceeds to swing back and forth mood-wise in a more erratic and disconnected fashion.

The finale of "Lisbon" once more reminisces The Joy Formidable, while "Silk" sounds more mature and consolidated than anything that came before, unfolding on top of keyboard notes that has it sounding like a slightly more grimy version of something College could've played on the Drive soundtrack. There's also a ring to Rowsell's singing here that brings to mind the confident female frontwomen of 90s alternative rock, like Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan or Garbage's Shirley Manson. A bit later, "Giant Peach" starts out sounding deceptively like The Horrors' "Sea Within A Sea" before unravelling as the noisiest and most grungy and defiant song on the album, while "Swallowtail" in contrast stands out by allowing drummer Joel Amery to take over the vocals for one of the album's most mellow tracks.

Overall, the strength of "My Love Is Cool" is absolutely its diversity, regardless of whether it's a side-effect of the band being young enough to have yet to commit to a more easily classifiable style, or an intentional choice, which would be even more commendable. Yet attempts to appreciate the record as a back to back listen are likely to be struck regularly by a feeling of the atmosphere dispersing somewhat on the second half of the release. This figures to be less because of the variety of directions that the band explores though, and more because the separate songs could still do with a bit more grooming. Because even as you arrive at them separately and recognise their individual hooks and flourishes, the impressions consistently seem to be ones of pleasant listening, yet listening that doesn't quite lift you all the way up to the heights of ecstasy that new favourite bands of yours should. Wolf Alice are promising then, indeed, but we're not quite yanked out of our seats just yet.

Download: Bros, Your Loves Whore, Silk
For The Fans Of: The Joy Formidable, The Jezabels, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater Kinney
Listen: facebook.com/wolfalicemusic

Release date 22.06.2015
Dirty Hit Records

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