“If we had an inkling of an idea, even if it seemed a bit silly, we’d try it out and see what happened,” Wolf Alice frontwoman Ellie Rowsell told NME earlier this year. That certainly shows as the veil of secrecy is finally removed from Wolf Alice’s Visions of Life, their follow-up to debut My Love is Cool which was met with widespread praise and has often since been hailed as “the saviour of the British guitar scene”.
How much of an effect the album had on the larger British music scene is a debate for another time, suffice to say My Love is Cool was a work of near perfection that still managed to bring enough new ideas to the table to cement it as a boundary-pushing album. Visions of a Life therefore had big shoes to fill before it’s debut single Yuk Foo had even been released to the airwaves.
The riotous screaming of that debut single demonstrated inspiration from everything from classic rock, riot grrrl style punk and the first hints of the bands expert synth pop delicacies.
The latter of these returned in fans second taste of the album with Don’t Delete the Kisses, a track so distant from Yuk Foo it was already difficult to imagine how the complete album would fit together. Combining the fury of Yuk Foo with the synth-pop delicacies of the spiritual continuation of the sound the band introduced us to with Bros on their debut would be a virtually impossible task.
Suffice to say, as with My Love is Cool, Wolf Alice’s migration from genre to genre can make your first listen a little off-putting. There’s no way you can breathe in the entire album in one go, instead, you’ll likely find yourself selecting a track that stands out to you, learning it, before moving onto the next. At a certain point, it will undoubtedly dawn on you that every track brings something to the table, it’s just that these pieces don’t necessarily lend to one another. Visions of a Life is a collection of tracks that range from good, to excellent, but they appeal in such violently different ways, Visions of a Life almost feels held back by its explosive creativity.
The sheer erratic nature is more often than not, a joy to hear, but whether it quite meets the standards of the band’s debut is questionable. There’s more of everything, more genres, more noise, more scale, but some of the key intricacies from My Love is Cool feel a little lost. Wolf Alice have widened their music in every way possible, but that’s opened them up to the risks of holes appearing under the veil the album casts.