Visions of a Life is a proud return for Wolf Alice

Visions of a LifeDespite the band's grunge protestations, Wolf Alice’s second album Visions of a Life is more accurately a wraithlike vision of death and deceit, wrapped in shiny Britpop paper.

Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s vocals play whimsically over a predictable but highly likable soft-rock ensemble that rarely wanders from a foot tapping 4/4 tempo; as with their debut album My Love Is Cool, released in 2015, the songwriting is competent, if not by rote. None of this is leveled as a criticism - after all, why fix a formula that hails the return of the great British shoegazing pop song, that made the 90s arguably one of the most exciting decades in recent British music history?

Visions of a Life, then, is a dream of an album to release, precisely delivered without being too laboured, offering nothing too challenging nor staid to capture the interest of the status quo. It is middle of the road without being uninspiring, and like any Hasbro game will appeal to all ages.

First single release “Yuk Foo” is like a teenage tantrum compared to the floating space of the rest of the album, brilliantly outraged fun without being too offensively explicit - at least without the benefit of the lyrics to read from. Then it’s a resolute two fingers up.

The use of monologues on "Don’t Delete The Kisses" and "Sky Musings" serve to add a greater sense of authority and maturity to the lyrical content, but beyond that, the songwriting is as angsty and undemanding as befits Rowsell’s 25 years.  It’s a celebration of being young, full of fire and talent and unafraid to make something a little shouty.

Want to see Wolf Alice touring? They'll play three UK dates in November!

"Planet Hunter" moves into a slightly different offering and sounds like an ethereal take on any Coldplay number, not a comparison that will do album sales any damage. "Formidable Cool" is more interesting and very different again, delivering what sounds like an almost Turkish-inspired bass line and whispering vocals exhaled through a puff of indignation. With so many different directions, perhaps this album is the finding of feet for Wolf Alice, as opposed to purely shoegazing?

The band hasn't completely let go of its roots, however, with "Sadboy" plugging that grungey hole (if only by comparison to the rest of the album) with a simple and uninspiring nod to the genre. In fact "Sadboy" demonstrates how far Wolf Alice has come on this second album if you contrast it to the effortlessly expanding "After The Zero Hour", a song that is both timeless and achingly beautiful in its choral simplicity.

Last but by no means least, title track "Visions of a Life" is almost eight minutes of swirling end credits, the last opportunity to cram in any melancholic musings not covered off to date. The grandstanding of a carefully successful album from a band that has every right to call itself Britpop, and a thoroughly good show.

Release: 29th September 2017, Dirty Hit


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