The band on the tip of everyone’s tongues this year, Wolf Alice make it to our number three spot with their 2017 triumph, Visions of a Life. Refusing to confine themselves to one defining sound, Ellie, Joff, Joel, and Theo gave us a mix-match of an album in the best sense of the word. With dreamy ethereal sounds at one end, and heavy dark rock at the other, no one track ends up sounding too similar, yet they manage to be connected by something. With an aim to cement themselves as a band, Wolf Alice has truly surpassed this aim: Visions made it to the number two spot in NME’s Album of the Year listings and is The Edge’s third Top Album of 2017.
From the album’s opener, ‘Heavenward’, you may be tricked into thinking that you’re listening to another installment of 2015 debut My Love Is Cool. The track’s rich celestial sounds coated in Rowsell’s vocals are nothing new from the band but don’t be fooled: second track ‘Yuk Foo‘ is the complete opposite. One of the heavier tracks on the album (also see ‘Formidable Cool’), at a mere 2:13 and with some pretty bad-ass lyrics (“You bore me to death, well deplore me/No, I don’t give a shit”) it feels as though the band are sticking their middle finger up to all of the people who put them into a fixed genre by placing two completely contrasting tracks side by side. And as Visions progresses, it’s clear this is exactly what Rowsell and co. are doing. ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Planet Hunter’ bear little similarity, the former celebrating the beauty of individuality through a nice catchy hook and the latter heavily relying on guitars to delve into existentialism (“I left my mind behind in 2015”). However, this lyrical and musical difference doesn’t draw away from Wolf Alice’s authenticity as a band. ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses‘ is another example of this. The almost spoken verses and punchy chorus (“What if it’s not meant for me? Love”) work as a kind of stream of consciousness and the subtle use of synths cushioned between drums and guitar is not used anywhere else on Visions. With all of this dissimilarity, a cohesive something can be found, and it’s this something which makes Wolf Alice so special. When I found out what it is, I’ll let you know.
A showcase of an album, Visions of a Life has quickly become a new favourite amongst Wolf Alice fans and new fans of the band alike. Its unwillingness to stay within its previous genre boundaries has created a record which can be enjoyed through listening to one personal stand-out track whilst still working nicely as a whole. Truly deserving of its number three position, I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll be seeing Wolf Alice in The Edge’s Top Albums of the Year.
Visions of a Life was released on September 29 via Dirty Hit