Thursday, September 28, 2017

Album Review :: Wolf Alice - Visions Of A Life


Wolf Alice

Visions Of A Life

September 29 2017 (Dirty Hit)


Words: Richard O’Hagan

‘Visions Of A Life’ is the second album by much-vaunted quartet Wolf Alice. Their 2015 debut reached number 2 in the UK charts, which makes this release a rare thing – a record to which the term ‘hotly awaited’ can justifiably be applied. So hotly awaited, in fact, that we practically had to wrestle their record company into giving us a review copy.

Does it live up to expectations, though? It’s certainly a very interesting record. A bit like a boxing octopus, it comes at you from all directions. Opener ‘Heavenward’ is five minutes of mellow, almost Cocteau Twins-y goodness, so it’s something of a shock when just a moment later you are hit with the punky schlock of ‘Yuk Foo’, in which singer Ellie Rowsell lets loose her inner riot grrrl and tells us precisely how few bowel movements she has.

This constant chopping and changing of styles continues throughout. You get some folky, acoustic numbers such as ‘After The Zero Hour’. You get some which are closer to frenetic electronica (‘Sky Musing’). There’s even a shoegazing duet on ‘Sadboy’.

Most importantly, though, there are some moments of utter genius. The title track is a sprawling piece of atmospheric brilliance, as good as. if not better, than anything more well-known bands such as The Horrors and The Maccabees have produced. Even better is ‘St Purple & Green’, which switches effortlessly from almost choral to front on rock and back again in a way that is simultaneously edgy and spectacular.

All of this is aided by some sharp and sympathetic production from Justin Meldal-Johnsen, whose experience producing the likes of Paramore and Nine Inch Nails clearly shows through. There are times when Rowsell’s vocals are arguably too far back in the mix, and if we are being really picky then this record could stand to lose one or two less distinguished tracks. Overall, though, it was definitely worth the fight to get to listen to it!

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