Ever since they released their break out single “Bros”, Wolf Alice has been a band who’ve been able to create tracks that are earnest, heartfelt and easily relatable, whilst simultaneously being as aggressive and downright brilliant as you could expect from a band in their genre. Where their debut album, 2015’s fantastic My Love Is Cool, was an album of eclectic indie-rock, Visions of a Life maintains that eclecticism but struggles to find its true sound.
Taking it for what it is, Visions of a Life is just an extension of My Love Is Cool. And on face value, that isn’t a bad thing. They’re both albums that critics will/ have loved and will undoubtedly go down a treat when played lived. But where My Love Is Cool showed the band in its infancy with perhaps a tad of naivety in its lyricism and content, Visions of a Life shows a band that are still trying to find who they are, whilst trying to forcefully implant their new vision on the music world.
When the band released the first taste of the album in single, “Yuk Foo”, it was a little hard to grasp at the time. Yes, it sounded sort of like Wolf Alice, but did it have that soaring sound you expected from the band? Not really. It was loud, aggressive and they didn’t ‘give a shit’. And while this might not have been music to some people’s ears, it indicated the change the band was beginning to undertake. As the heaviest of the new tracks, if you can get on the favourable side of “Yuk Foo”, you’re most likely going to enjoy the rest of Visions of a Life.
Opener “Heavenward” has a dreamy, Britannia vibe to it (the band being British means it isn’t all that surprising really), whilst the chorus of “Beautifully Unconventional” is beautifully and unintentionally quite reminiscent of Tenacious D’s “Tribute”. Lead single “Don’t Delete The Kisses”, with its anthemic choral chant of ‘Me and You were meant to be’ is the stand out moment of the LP. It’s here you fully appreciate the vocals of Ellie Rowsell. As she whispers through the verses to pounding out the choruses, you definitely know she knows what’s she’s doing.
The gradual build on “Planet Hunter” is another instance in which the band has gone out of their way to prove they can create layered tracks like the best of them. While “Planet Hunter” is most definitely a step forward for the band, the formidably cool “Formidable Cool” sounds a little bit too much like My Love Is Cool’s “Giant Peach”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great track, but the band seemed to have stalled artistically here, if only momentarily.
While a completely different track to “Don’t Delete The Kisses”, the other stand out track from Visions of a Life is “Space & Time”. It’s guaranteed to be a fan favourite. As the album draws to a close, you’re unfortunately still looking for that moment on Visions of a Life that makes it all count for something. Album closer and titular track “Visions of a Life” tries its best to fill the void. Coming in at just under eight minutes, “Visions of a Life” showcases every creative juice the band were trying to put onto the album.
While the album is definitely a great listen, it just feels that Wolf Alice are still searching for who they are as a band. Visions of a Life is a solid album that has more positives than it does negatives, but just lacks the cohesive prowess you’d expect from one of England’s best young bands.
Review Score: 7.7 out of 10.
Visions of a Life is out September 29th.