Release Date: 9/29/2017
I was first drawn to Wolf Alice’s new album “Visions of a Life” by their single “Don’t Delete the Kisses.” It was a pretty little tune that stuck with me from the time I first heard it on Sirius XM Altnation until I finally looked it up, listened to it a few times, read the lyrics, and subsequently cried myself to sleep over how beautifully they went with the music. (True story.)
So, how did the rest of the album stack up against that – ahem – memorable first single? Actually, pretty well.
From only hearing “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” I assumed Wolf Alice’s sound would probably be a very atmospheric pop sound, pleasant, but probably not too memorable. I’ve heard a lot of bands with a similar feel that tend to be forgettable in their quest to be pretty and pleasant.
What I didn’t know is that “Visions of a Life” has the atmospheric sound I expected, but it also had this rock sensibility that I really can’t help but vibe to. It plays around with form and experimental sounds to keep things interesting. A lot of this album reminds me of the kind of vintage rock you’d hear played in a hip little record shop or something.
The vocals throughout this album are notable for how varied they can be – whispered at some times, screamed at others. I really appreciate the variation in emotion throughout this album. It’s definitely unique, definitely likeable, and definitely an album I would see myself listening to multiple times and recommending to others.
Some of the standouts of the album include, of course, “Don’t Delete the Kisses” (lyrics that will make you cry and music that sells the emotion of those lyrics so well it’s crazy), “Beautifully Unconventional” (a perfect “walking to class song,” immediately made me bob my head along to the beat the first time I heard it), “Formidable Cool” (a really sick vintage sound with some good ol’ bad boy angst), and “St. Purple and Green” (somehow makes church-style chorals work with a subtly intense rock feel).
That’s not to say this album is perfect – certainly not. Sometimes it pulls too hard from either end of its musical influences. For some songs, like “Yuk Foo,” the experimentation goes too much into the “unpleasant to listen to” zone for me, using too much scream-like vocals and repeated, needless swearing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a few songs are just too atmospheric and pretty to be particularly memorable, like “Sadboy” and “Space & Time.”
Still, despite these few missteps, I think this album as a whole is strong. It has a really nice, unique sound that I’ll definitely want to come back to. While I can’t say I haven’t cried myself to sleep over the rest of it, it was definitely an enjoyable ride from the first to the last track. I’ll be keeping my eye on this band.