WOLF ALICE – My Love is Cool
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Starred review by Nico Diaz
This North London quartet has been building steady momentum with a pair of stellar EPs (Blush; Creature Songs) and a string of energetic performances throughout Europe and the US. (Watch their psychedelic rendition of Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game” at Glastonbury last year. They were also recently featured on the cover of NME with the headline: “They’re gonna be BIG”. Billboard listed them as Artists to Watch in 2015. Rarely am I impressed by newbies turned music-media darlings; mainly because these overblown bands suck and usually wind up releasing duds.
Wolf Alice has proven to be the exception to the rule.
On the heels of their well-earned buzz, Wolf Alice has just released their stunning full-length debut, My Love is Cool. And like sprinkling sugar over a scraped knee, this album is loaded with mesmerizing juxtaposition–lush melodies and dreamy vocals combined with abrasive guitars and towering feedback. Think early Smashing Pumpkins shoegaze meets psycheldelia with sporadic doses of ‘80s synth-pop.
Throughout the album singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell manages to come off both angelic and badass, her vocals dancing like candlelight on the wall of sound crafted by guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis, and drummer Joel Amey. Producer Mike Crossey (Black Keys; Arctic Monkeys) highlighted the band’s complex and layered dynamic while constructing an exceedingly cohesive album. As singles go, “Giant Peach”, “Moaning Lisa Smile” and “Bros” are all winners. Standouts. But what truly separates the good albums from great ones is the resonance (or lack thereof) of the deeper cuts. This is where My Love is Cool finds a different gear and takes off. Tracks such as “Lisbon”, “Swallowtail”, “You’re a Germ” and “Your Loves Whore” are nothing short of dazzling.
As great as this album is, there are a few fails here, moments when their sound ventures too far into synth-pop, resulting in lackluster songs like “Silk” and “Freazy”. On lesser albums, these two tracks would have been fine, but alongside the rest of the beautiful gems on My Love… they sound uninspired. That said, it’s awfully difficult to fault a band—especially a new band—for taking risks.
In an era that finds cohesive albums a rarity, Wolf Alice deserves high praise for delivering that and more on their spectacular debut.