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Review: Wolf Alice Drops “Beautifully Unconventional” New Album, Visions of a Life

22048045_1427674803948494_3129691433506366444_oHaling from North London, Wolf Alice came onto the scene back in 2010 as a two-person band. Over the years that number increased to four, and by 2012 the band’s current lineup was all set. Ellie Rowsell (vocals, guitar), Joff Oddie (guitars, vocals), Theo Ellis (bass), and Joel Amey (drums, vocals) released their official debut single, “Fluffy” in February 2013, and have since then worked expanded their musical horizons and refining their sound. The result is just as awesome as one would expect.

Visions of a Life is truly an experience, with versatile songs that allow the band to try on different hats throughout the course of the album. While some may see this as a turn off, Wolf Alice executes the variation flawlessly, resulting in a collection of songs that go well together despite their differences.

“Heavenward” opens the album with what can only be described as etherial dissonance. The otherworldly cacophony is soon joined by an uplifting beat and powerful guitar. Roswell’s angelic vocals slowly fade in, accenting the already transcendent tone. The echo the vocals have once the lyrics rally kick in give an otherworldly vibe. This song truly does feel like it’s heaven-sent, which only makes the transition to the second track on the album all the more shocking.

“Yuk Fo”is a complete 180 from the previous song. The liberal use of vulgarity in the lyrics mirrors the anger dripping from some rater intense vocals. This track has a more grungy vibe, mixing some good old underground rock n’ roll with a hint of violent sexuality. This song is high-energy, and if it doesn’t get the blood pumping, then you might want to get that checked out.

“Beautifully Unconventional” offers yet another change of pace. This melodic tune, has an excellent flow and vocals that is sure to leave listeners with chills. The poeticism of the lyrics meshes well with the song’s hip hop edge.

In the same vein as “Heavenward” there is “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” which features soft, rhythmic spoken (or rather whispered) vocals that are absolutely enticing.

“Planet Hunter,” in a nutshell, is clear, pure, simple, and poetic. This track somehow manages to have a dreamy feel to it while remaining grounded in the moment. It is present without losing the sense of grander and imagination that makes life seem like magic. With a larger than life chorus, this song is sure to make a few favorite lists.

“Sky Musings” is intense and introspective with an edge of angry determination. Here’s another track that will give listeners goosebumps, but for totally different reasons. It’s almost like the singer is literally having to hold herself back, especially when the flow of the lyrics breaks and she apologizes for “[losing herself] for a minute.” Near the end of the track the ambience builds to a beautiful, transcendent sound which then fades out to a radio-like buzz.

Tackling yet another topic, “Formidable Cool” is a song about sex appeal with a lot of sex appeal. The trippy guitar part and entrancing lyrics are mixed with intense outbursts that may surprise listeners, at least the first time. This is a song about false love, an act, and the shallowness of lust in disguise.

Things lighten up a little with “Space & Time,” an upbeat rock jam with powerful vocals and some great energy. It’s fun to dance to, and super catchy. What’s not to love?

“Sadboy” is a song with a great title. Featuring a super catchy beat, there’s something oddly amusing about this melodic track, despite the fact that it’s literally about a boy who’s sad. Then again, that may just be the source of it’s charm, especially with that deceptively happy tune.

“St. Purple & Green” opens with a beautiful, acapella harmony, only to surprise listeners with an unforeseen explosion of guitar, drums, and awesomeness. This high and low consists throughout the song. Slightly eccentric, but enjoyable nonetheless.

“After the Zero Hour” is a slow, sad song with solemn vocals accented with a lone guitar. This song truly showcases the singer’s range, and will definitely make listeners feel some sort of way.

The album comes to an end on the title track, “Visions of a Life.” This seven minute masterpiece is a work of art adorned with intense guitar and soft vocals simmering with a hidden power. It’s almost like electricity in the way it gets under the skin.

There’s so much going on with Visions of a Life, it can almost be overwhelming, but there really is nothing like giving it a listen in one sitting. Truly a rollercoaster of topics, tones, and even genres, it’s not an album to miss.

Rating: 5/5

Stream: Visions of a Life by Wolf Alice

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