UK indie band Wolf Alice revealed a video for their new single, “Smile.” After “The Last Man On Earth,” It’s the second single they’ve shared in advance of their upcoming album Blue Weekend, which is due on June 11 via Dirty Hit/RCA Records.
In high contrast with the previous single, “The Last Man On Earth,” which is a piano-based pop song with a theatrical build-up that was inspired lyrically by Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, “Smile” starts out with a lot of energy right off the bat and keeps it up throughout the track. It has a memorable bassline that drives the verses in a sort of long-form call-and-response with noisy electric guitar that serves as an instrumental hook between vocal sections. Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s vocals during the verses seem vaguely rap-inspired, and the whole song has a late ‘90s/early ‘00s feel to it. The song opens up for some chord-driven choruses, which feel much more uplifting next to the intensity of the bass/guitar riff.
In the video, Rowsell looks out of place in a small but rowdy bar. As Wolf Alice begins playing a gig there, the customers go from yelling at the bartender to yelling at the band and intentionally spilling drinks while the bartender shows off her dance moves. It was directed by Jordan Hemmingway and shot with vibrant colored lighting. The swiveling camera close-ups also fit the ‘90s vibe of the song.
Rowsell says they wrote the song with live performances in mind, so the video’s setting makes sense. “This is one of the songs we wrote thinking that we would play it live,” she states. “I miss that feeling of singing on stage. It’s like screaming into a pillow or something — you can get away with being more nasty. There’s a whole other part of me missing.” Wolf Alice is set to go on their first tour since they’ve been quarantined in January 2022 throughout the UK and Ireland, although most of the dates are already sold out.
The music videos for the two songs appear to be connected in some fashion due to the way “The Last Man On Earth” begins with “Chapter IX” and “Smile” begins with “Chapter IV,” correlating to their positions in the tracklisting for Blue Weekend. However, the video for the prior just focuses on kaleidoscopic close-ups on Rowsell’s face until the curtains behind her catch on fire. It’s likely that the chapter titles only serve to denote the songs’ placements in the album’s context, but both were directed by Hemmingway.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, Wolf Alice has been staying at an Airbnb in Somerset, England and writing/recording demos during their time there. Once they had the songs down, they hired Markus Dravs to produce the album and soon their third album was being recorded.
Wolf Alice formed as a duo consisting of Rowsell on guitar and lead vocals and Joff Oddie on guitar and backing vocals, and in 2012 they were joined by Theo Ellis on bass and Joel Amey on drums. Together, they have released their three EPs Wolf Alice (2012), Blush (2013) and Creature Comforts (2014) as well as two full-length albums My Love Is Cool (2015) and Visions of a Life (2017).