Visions of a Life breathes new life into Wolf Alice’s dreamy sound, inserting a bit of grit while still taking us away from reality.
The single “Yuk Foo” is the musical embodiment of punching a pillow with lyrics like “f*ck the world”, while “Planet Hunter” is softer and more thoughtful, perfect for night-time musings. “Beautifully Unconventional” just about sums up the album, an odd mix of punk-esque sound and magical dreampop. “Don’t Delete the Kisses” continues on this vein, and a part of me was transported to the 80s listening to it, with its hard bass line and reverb. Perhaps this album resembles the angsty punk of the 90s more than anything else, but its unique mix of folk and punk draws you in and makes it difficult to switch off.
There’s a strange mix of cliché and realism in this album. The stories in the songs can come off as ridiculously mundane, with the ‘girl’ obsessing over a boy in “Formidable Cool” or the singer’s absolute hatred in “Yuk Foo”. But mixed with this are humiliating endings, and the idea that things do not always end perfectly, which makes Visions of a Life stand out from other chart toppers.
The name of the album seems apt, as each of these songs contains a snapshot of life – whether exciting and mad or quiet and relaxing. The heavenly singing in “St. Purple and Green” gives way to music with much more body and that’s what this album does. The whispering voice of Ellie Rowsell sells both of these aspects, laughing at our idea of being cool in “Formidable Cool” while singing about a girl losing control in “After the Zero Hour”. Songs with stories are always more interesting and there’s lots to love here, with sadness entwined with anger entwined with the young part of us that loves to rail at the world. The last song, “Visions of a Life” is epic, a mysterious adventure that brings UNKLE to mind. Think otherworldly, but in the travelling sense.
Visions of a Life is the second album by Wolf Alice, and though their classic sound remains, I sense there is more feeling here. Having seen Wolf Alice in St. Andrews a few years ago, I wish that I could have heard them play this album then. Visions of a Life is a wild ride, but I can promise it’s definitely one you want to take.