A Cloud of Imagination with a Core of Youthful Emotion
Visions of A Life is the second full-length album from British alternative-rock band, Wolf Alice. Both albums were produced under the record label, Dirty Hit; this is the same record label as The 1975, so they must be doing something right in terms of breeding artists for mainstream success. However, artists under Dirty Hit achieve popularity without being forced to transform themselves into conventional pop robots, and Wolf Alice is no exception. In Visions of A Life, Wolf Alice presents the spirit of ‘90s grunge in its rawness and edginess, but with their own twist of sophistication and unique energy.
The album initially kicks off with “Heavenward,” a single from the group. The track features heavy drum and guitar like any rock ballad and is paired with frontwoman Ellie Roswell’s soft vocals. The track is a good representation of Wolf Alice’s sound for first-listeners — aesthetic themes of ‘90s rock with a new perspective. “Beautifully Unconventional,” another single from the album, stands out as a relatively fun and innocent modern anthem, with sounds of alternative rock and synth-pop.
Despite having occasional orthodox pop moments, Wolf Alice stubbornly holds their ground in rock and steers away from the mainstream sound in tracks like “Sky Musing” which consists of haunting whispers of “God, can you hear me?” and no singing, in the traditional sense. Similarly, Yuk Foo stands out in the album for being intense and rough. Roswell’s vocals are organically angsty and filled with emotion in these 73 seconds of rock ‘n roll.
Visions of A Life quite literally tackles themes of life and growing up. This is notably seen in songs such as “Don’t Delete The Kisses,” with lyrics that address young-adult romance and turmoil such as “And then I’m trapped, overthinking / And yeah, probably self-doubt / What if [love’s] not meant for me?” On a similar note, in “Formidable Cool,” Roswell emotionally recounts a tale of a promiscuous boy and the dangers of love, all while chanting “Believe in love” during the chorus. In a way, Wolf Alice mocks the angst and emotions of youth while portraying that these themes persist throughout life. Many tracks such as “St. Purple and Green” and “Heavenward” switch between musical sounds multiple times throughout the track — from soft, ethereal whisperings to loud, anxious musical shouts. This does not represent indecisiveness for the band, rather the varying waves of attitude and passion through life, specifically in youth.
For many, especially those outside of the U.K., Wolf Alice might be unfamiliar terrain. But with their previous Grammy nomination in 2016 and Visions of A Life currently rising in the charts, artists should keep an eye on them and listeners should keep an ear out for them.