Tuesday, 16 June 2015
REVIEW: Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool
When the world met Wolf Alice, something changed. Two parts bratty punk pop to one part teen-diary confessional, their assent to popularity felt both organic and well-deserved, miles away from the flash-in-the-pan success of some of their more testosterone-charged counterparts. Based on the solid foundations of a formidable live show, three thrilling EP's and a quiet confidence in front of the press, the London foursome set themselves up one of the most anticipated debut's from a UK band in quite some time.
Pressing play on My Love Is Cool, it becomes clear that they have no interest in retaining their tag as a 90s grunge outfit. Opener 'Turn To Dust' is disconcertingly spacey, relaxed affair, the calm before the storm, if one were to trade in such cliches. Exploring subtle places that their previous singles haven't, it's softly-sung vocal is almost playful, with lilts of musical theatre that hint at a desire to do things on a grandiose scale.
Segueing into familiar favourite 'Bros' (re-recorded for the album), it at first appears as if we may have lost Wolf Alice's feral streak entirely. The original was faster, louder and rougher around the edges - all the reasons we fell in love with them in the first place. This newer recording is a suspicious new baby in the household, one we're not sure we like. And then we stop being stubborn and realise that in the context of a wider record, it all makes sense - the toned down guitars and extra choruses turning it from a wide-eyed boozy festival "love ya" declaration into something genuinely quite beautiful and poignant. It becomes the perfect sibling to 'Silk', the musical manifestation of an evening sat on a bedroom windowsill as a teenager, desperately hoping for something exciting to happen in your life and yet being a little scared that it might. Always sad and relatably angsty, but with a certain knowing that belies the youthful memories.
The idea of darkness lurking under the surface of perfectly-painted smiles is one that runs heavily through 'My Love Is Cool.' The effervescent psych-pop of 'Freazy' feels carefree, a summer festival anthem in the waiting, but the kiss-off of it's chorus ('you can hate us all you want but/ it don't mean nothing at all') feels remarkably direct. The stop-starting guitar lines of 'Your Loves Whore' adds an eerie undertone of Ellie's dusky vocals, while 'Lisbon' has all the epicness of a closing track right in the middle of a record, just to keep you on your toes. It's a record designed to subvert expectation; not just for the sake of being controversial, but for the sake of avoiding the inevitable pigeonhole that comes from being a '90s band' or a 'grunge band' or even lazier 'a female-fronted outfit'.
Not quite as loud and thrilling as their live show, but an excellent collection of songs nonetheless, My Love Is Cool is an impressive stab at that difficult debut record, evidence that they are much more diverse than their initial EP's suggested. Taking their bandname from the title of a novel that details a feral outsider growing into a full-fledged human, they have recreated their own legend here in musical form - blending the prim and british with the aggression of something wild. It's a masterful blend that can mean no bad thing for their longevity.
Stream My Love Is Cool on iTunes here