Albums Of The Week

London quartet Wolf Alice’s sophomore album is an exhilarating release

(From left) Joel Amey, Theo Ellis, Joff Oddie and Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice.
(From left) Joel Amey, Theo Ellis, Joff Oddie and Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice.PHOTO: LAURA ALLARD FLEISCHL

London quartet Wolf Alice's sophomore album Visions Of A Life is an exhilarating release

There is no shortage of stellar acts in the line-up for the eighth edition of Laneway Singapore on Jan 27, which was revealed yesterday.

One of them, London quartet Wolf Alice, have put out what is possibly this year's most exhilarating alternative/indie rock release.

Visions Of A Life is the band's second album and it proves that they are no flash-in-the-pan outfit or are suffering a sophomore slump.

Two years ago, their debut album, My Love Is Cool, created quite a stir within indie circles and earned the band nominations for accolades such as Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize. One of their tracks, Moaning Lisa Smile, was also nominated at the Grammys for Best Rock Performance.

In their follow-up full-length release, the abundance of feral fury and restless energy is tempered by the band's astute ability to string together genres coherently as they sing about the vagaries of young adulthood.

Opening number Heavenward, with its reverb-laden vocals and swathes of droning guitars, is a nod to shoegaze; Beautifully Unconventional is irresistible with its raw R&B/soul swagger; while early single Yuk Foo rages with the abrasiveness of 1990s riot grrrl.

  • ALTERNATIVE/ INDIE ROCK


  • VISIONS OF A LIFE

    Wolf Alice

    RCA

    4.5/5 stars

The heart and soul of the band is undoubtedly singer/multi-instrumentalist Ellie Rowsell.

From the seductive, spoken-word narrations on Don't Delete The Kisses and Sky Musings to her formidable wails on Sadboy and the wildly shifting title track, she possesses an irrepressible charm.

Planet Hunter ("Am I a planet hunter/Or a brave deviator?") has her sounding fragile and ethereal while the band navigate a dramatic, post-rock build up. She even pulls off an acoustic psych-folk number, After The Zero Hour, a distinctive tune with dark pastoral vibes.

Like a lot of their millennial peers, there is a lot of love for pop culture of the past, and not just through musical throwbacks to decades-old genres.

Rowsell, for example, has said that Beautifully Unconventional was inspired by the main protagonists in 1988 dark high school flick Heathers.

Her lyrical inspirations cover the contemporary too - Formidable Cool is based on a 2016 novel, The Girls by American author Emma Cline, about women embroiled in a Charles Manson-like cult.

As stirring as the album is, one is curious as to how a four piece can translate the dynamism of these recorded works live when they play their debut Singapore show.

It is probably going to be a killer set. This is, after all, the outfit that won an NME Award for Best Live Band. I know which act I will be rooting for when Laneway comes around next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Stunning second chapter'. Print Edition | Subscribe