Friday, 5 June 2015

Wolf Alice 'My Love Is Cool' (ALBUM REVIEW)

WolfAlice's early EPs are run through with entrancing, almost otherworldly qualities; Ellie Rowsell's sweeping, majestic vocals, backed by gently soaring guitars and finger-light deft percussion. In the life performance, they evolved to somehow translate this into a grungy, scuzzy wall of sound that hits you hard in the gut and the heart. It's unforgettable and made the listener's return to the folkier recordings feel lacking in their delicate beauty.

Recorded in just five weeks but gotten to by way of a winding journey over several years and multiple discarded songs, My Love Is Cool is an admirable stab at capturing the best of both elements of the band. Beginning gently as ever with rumination on mortality Turn To Dust and fan favourite Bros, one of the few EP tracks to survive to the album proper, it's on Your Loves Whore that the band really begins to stretch and wake up. With melody in spades, it's the most 90s facing track on an album which manages, for the most part, to defy those well worn expectations. Joff Oddie's guitar is tougher than on previous releases, but the track manages to retain the pop direction that you feel the band are striving for. It segues perfectly into You're A Germ, a shouty, GoGos style anthem against sexual exploitation.

There's an elemental feel, reminiscent of all the best rock 'n' roll, a mess of influences without being obviously in thrall to anyone one genre or artist. Everything sounds vaguely familiar but just out of reach, and you realise you're having such a good time singing along to words you don't even know yet that you no longer care. There are still quieter moments; notably on Silk and Swallowtail, where drummer Joel Amey gives his not unimpressive vocals an airing, but they've lost that floaty, folky feel. Propped up by unexpectedly experimental guitar effects, they're infused with a strength and attitude, creating a tangible soundscape that gives heft to the softer edges. Triumphant single Giant Peach is an obvious highlight, and the track most deserving of the nu-grunge label they've tried hard to shake. In the context of the album whole, it makes more sense, a doorway into their developing darker pop sensibilities. A sense of what might be to come is evident on Soapy Water, a shuddering, stuttering electrowashed ode to the misery of love, produced to perfection by Mike Crossey that is as near to a faultless song as I've heard this year.

There's no killer single, not really, but there is an album as an entirety, truly representative of the ethos and oeuvre of the band thus far; no mean feat in this age of streaming and singles pushes. It's not the best album they'll ever make, but it is the best first album they could have made. It's the fashion now for bands to emerge fully formed and perfect, with an album proclaimed by all as life changing and then spend the rest of their career trying to live up to the hype. This has been neither a soft release nor a big push to make them the next big thing. It's a credit to the vision of the band and the belief of the label that they've been given this chance to mature and ferment and grow into who they'll eventually become.  

'My Love Is Cool' is released on June 22nd on Dirty Hit Records

Wolf Alice Official