If you read up at all on Wolf Alice, they’re likely to strike you as a child with extraordinarily long legs finally learning that they’re excellent at hurdling. Let me explain: self described as a “gang of lovable jerks”, enigmatic Wolf Alice strike up a mix of baffled excitement, polite recklessness, and unapologetic nervous enthusiasm. At the start of this week, they released their debut album My Love Is Cool, a work recorded in five chaotic weeks last November with the help of producer Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Foals). They might have doubted themselves at times, but the wait and the work has paid off.
One of the greatest advantages of being such an undefinable genre is that no one can tell you you’re doing it wrong; anything goes, and Wolf Alice have truly allowed themselves to let go and see where the music takes them. It’s very refreshing.
Such is the flow of the record that I’m reluctant to break it down into the tracks and pull them apart with much vigour, but key elements demanding heightened attention, it’s almost a must. Take the subtle, ethereal opening to the album, Ellie Rowsell’s vocals as captivating as the likes of Birdy or Regina Spektor, making Turn To Dust an atmospheric and enchanting number, supported by only the simplest of instrumental, a craft that gradually thickens as the song progresses.
Fan favourite Bros picks this up into minimalistic rock, the vocals remaining the crowning joy of the track through the distortion, and lyrically referencing the literary influence the band take their name from – not the only time this crops up on the record, touched on again in percussion punched Lisbon. By third Your Loves Whore, the understated rock vibe has dissipated, instead blossoming to a fuller and more experimental edge, stop starting and ebbing like a tide.
You’re A Gem continues the variety by appealing to a 90s, stripped back grunge atmosphere, whilst Silk boasts easily the most powerful and alluring opening, with layered vocals that alone could crown this my favourite of the album year, let alone my favourite song off the album. Freazy hints in the general direction of HAIM influences, whilst thick riffs in Giant Peach push into the unapologetic, determined side of their style.
Switching vocalist, five and a half minute Swallowtail allows the band to branch out further, a one-man-and-his-guitar gradually lifting above this humble beginning – very much feet on the ground and head in the clouds. Ellie returns in the home straight for the eclectic and glittering Soapy Water, a sharp contrast to penultimate Fluffy, full of the biggest riffs of the record and guitar solos and screeches that add a kind of appealing madness to the track. Winding down the earthy The Wonderwhy, there couldn’t be a better way to provide an understated finale, touching on the occasional outburst.
I cannot urge you to listen to this album enough; from delicately carved out vocal spectacles to huge crashes of instrumental, there’s a friendly chaos to Wolf Alice’s My Love Is Cool.
Listen to Giant Peach below.