Record review: Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool (2015, LP)

wolf alice my love is cool

It’s easy to tire of the endless run of identikit NME-endorsed monotone and monochrome oh-so-English toffboy quartets masquerading as the new Clash-via-Libertines for the 21st century. Palma Violets, the Vaccines, Peace et. al are bands whose style-over-substance approach and try-hard ramshackle do little to deter the feeling that each of their parents have probably never driven anything smaller than a Range Rover with a horsebox, and that Pete Doherty is somehow still revered despite having been irrelevant for over a decade.

London’s Wolf Alice skirt around the edges of being such a band, sometimes dipping their toe into the clichéd indie-rock no man’s land that has been the final stop before the knacker’s yard for many a rock-lite pretender, but thankfully their debut album has just enough guts and range to prevent it from being more than just another shade of beige in the guitar-rock rainbow. If they didn’t have singer-guitarist Ellie Rowsell – a Justine Frischmann for the selfie-stick generation – Wolf Alice would barely be worth mentioning; the 22 year-old frontwoman carries her trio of anonymous male bandmates with aplomb throughout My Love Is Cool.

The band’s earliest work was rooted in folk, and it shows as Rowsell engages her inner Sandy Denny on ‘Turn To Dust’ and ‘Swallowtail’ sees one of the lesser three do his best Nick Drake impression. The delicate noir of ‘Silk’ sets up single and belting rock banger ‘Giant Peach’ perfectly; it’s here the controlled vocal talents of the diminutive Rowsell are most impressive, and on ‘Fluffy’ she shows screamo isn’t beyond her. Filler ‘You’re A Germ’ will embarrass as the band mature, as will the forgettable ‘Freazy’, but it’s exactly how Wolf Alice find and settle on their sound on album two which will make or break the band.


Record review: Wolf Alice – Creature Songs (2014, EP)

wolf alice creature songs

Questions young bands have to ask themselves number 1186: do we save up all our good songs for a debut album, risking losing momentum and fans, or strike when the iron is hot, put out an EP and potentially lessen the quality of said long-player? English indie-rock quartet Wolf Alice are a band leaning heavily towards the latter approach, this being their second EP of top quality indie-rock in the space of less than twelve months. As their moniker suggests, Wolf Alice’s music is half rough and half gentle, with elements of grunge, rock and shoegaze at the pointy end and subtle indie at the other. This four track effort starts off strongly with the colossal ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’; a mesh of heavily fuzzed guitars and big vocals, before kicking it up another gear with ‘Storms’, a song which isn’t unlike something fellow English rockers Band of Skulls might write. In frontwoman Ellie Rowsell, indie-rock kids might have a new Goddess to worship; her commitment and command of every song being particularly impressive. Third track ‘Heavenly Creatures’ comes as a surprise after two alt-rock numbers; Rowsell’s whispered vocals and ringing harmonies over a simple guitar and bass line provide a cosy cushion for your ears to sink into, and closer ‘We’re Not The Same’ begins in misery before exploding with angst and feedback. It remains to be seen whether Wolf Alice can move past being labelled a ‘hype’ band to something more substantial, but if they keep tunes of this standard coming, the world of rock is theirs for the taking. (Dirty Hit)