Wolf Alice: Visions of a Life – Album Review

Matt Latham reviews the latest Wolf Alice album...

Label: Dirty Hit
Tracks: 10
Running time: 46:39

Listening to a Wolf Alice album is like living in an episode of The Magic School Bus in which Ms Frizzle traverses through the spectrum of music genres. They can take you through several genres within one song and still struggle when any transition occurred. Debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’ was a varied interesting mix of pop-rock and grunge with a lot of leeway during the journey. Sophomore release ‘Visions of a Life’ continues this trend of maintaining a Wolf Alice ‘sound’ yet crafts genres together in a package that’s lovely to listen to.

From smooth easy listening prog-rock introspection to riot-girl esque venting anger, ‘Visions of a Life’ cruises down Main Street, relaxing, feeling good. Next thing you know you’re seeing octo–no, wait: fashioned pop-rock. There’s twinges of country mixed in with grunge. There’s influences of gospel and dark pop layered with guitar and you honestly can’t pinpoint any stylistic change with the exception of songs ending and starting.

As someone who usually is more focused on lyrical content and just cares that the music is ‘good to listen to’, Wolf Alice manage to take hold and get you interested in the composition of the songs. They’re amazingly crafted recipes of genres that bake into fully formed songs. But aside from the music, the lyrics contain a multitude of different stories and scenarios. From grief (‘Heavenward’), characters based on films and books (‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Formidably Cool’) to the romantic (‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’).

‘Visions of a Life’ is an album that’s hard to pinpoint highlights, as the piece is full of them. As with it’s predecessor, every song has a strong unique selling point that makes them memorable. From the absolute anger being released through explicit language in ‘Yuk Foo’, to the introspection and almost-rapping-rhyme-schemes of ‘Sky Musings’, there’s something in all of the songs to hook you in. The album’s titular closing track brings things to a suitable epic close – blending the progressive and original grungy nature of the band together.

Personal highlight for me is ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’. It took a while to grow, but the trance-like quiet whispering vocals make the long verses whizz by. A story of indecision and self-doubt of the initial meeting and the writing and not writing of text messages is a universal story everyone can relate to. It builds to a nice happy ending and sets off the first third of the album nicely.

The album has been getting high marks across the board in other reviews. DIY gave it a 10. It’s fully deserved as it’s as strong as ‘My Love Is Cool’. Whether it’s better is a subjective opinion – but more time to delve even deeper into this album could unlock even more of its joys and possibly surpass its debut. Wonderful work from Wolf Alice from start to finish.

Wolf Alice: Visions of a Life is available now from Dirty Hit. Let us know what you thought of it!

Featured image source: Paul Hudson from United Kingdom (Wolf Alice at Heaven) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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