London alt-rock band, Wolf Alice, arm themselves with punk power-chords and epic vocal arrangements continuing their streak of solid professionally recorded projects. Ever since the band’s EP “Blush,” Wolf Alice has remained a favorite within the oversaturated genre of alt-rock due to their tasteful use of folk, electronica, and grunge elements in the creation of their expansive soundscapes. “Visions of a Life” maintains this signature style by creating a complex fusion of dreamy shoegaze imbued with grunge’s off-kilter delivery creating a volatile mix; one moment cool and captivating but the next thrilling and gnarly.
The band’s frontwoman, Ellie Rowsell is only 25-years-old but she sings about feelings most people have during their tumultuous years of high school. Rowsell is not too far removed from this age group: much of the lyrics on the record compel the listener to believe she is currently facing these struggles because of her sheer intensity. The band’s intricate layering of sounds over her grandeur vocals emulate her state of mind so vividly I forget I’m just listening to a dumb, gushy love-song, like on “Don’t Delete the Kisses.”
Rowsell simulates the moody teenager fumbling through an assortment of emotions, balancing rage and gentleness; anxiety and comfort. The best illustration of this is the album’s first two tracks. It starts with “Heavenward,” a mellow, spacey and angelic ballad celebrating friends the band has lost over the years, immortalizing them in a “small heaven,” a song to remember them with. However, Rowsell quickly turns-a-corner on the second track, “Yuk Foo,” expelling a frenzy of teenage frustrations, boldly flicking-off the world and changing the tone of the entire record unexpectedly. “Yuk Foo” is an awkward inclusion no matter how you organize the album but Rowsell seemed aware of how self-destructive the song and her attitude were on the track and just doesn’t seem to care as long as you go down with her. It has its charm but is ultimately off-putting.
The track “Sky Musings,” delves into the crippling effects of anxiety by plunging the listener into Rowsell’s mind during a freak-out on a commercial plane. By narrating the attack with hushed spoken-word and a steady, synth-beat mimicking an erratic heartbeat, Rowsell creates a simple yet tense scenario accurately capturing the psychological damage caused by over-thinking.
Followed shortly afterward is “Space & Time,” a track about the uncertainty the future holds and a desire to travel ahead in time just to know for sure it will all be okay in the end. Although Rowsell is anxious about this, she is not having a panic attack on the same level as “Sky Musings,” and in fact, finds comfort in the idea that if she were to just travel into the future she would likely see exactly what she wants.
It’s interesting to see how different her attitude and the tone of the songs are from one another. “Sky Musings” worries so much about the present and is ultimately irrational while “Space & Time” worries so little about the future presenting an upbeat and optimistic view of a very rational fear. I find comfort in this idea as well, that our minds and the way we approach things ultimately decide how we feel about something.
Although this album isn’t entirely a sophomore slump, it feels weaker overall in comparison to the band’s previous works. The chaotic mix of singles early in the record seemed forced, especially with “Yuk Foo.” The front-loaded singles stir things up some but the album ties itself together nicely as it goes on. However, I’m not sure how often I’ll be replaying this album into the future due to the nature of its cliched theme. I give Wolf Alice’s “Vision of A Life” a 6.5/10 but recommend their previous works along with some of the singles from this record.
|What I’m looking for.||Score (0-10)||Examples of Scoring|
|Innovation||4||10- Creates entire genre.
8- Creates a new niche or sub-genre
6-pushes current genres limits
4- pushes their own limits
|Uniqueness (of either artist or album)||7||10-Never before seen (has influences still)
8-More than 3 unique qualities including sound, person, story, ect.
6- 2 unique qualities
4-1 unique qualities
2-Lowest possible score because everyone is unique :^)
|Artist’s technical ability||9|
|Production||7||10- Perfect Balance
5- Over-produced more than not (or even under produced)
0- Sounds horrible
|Theme||7||10-powerful theme throughout
5-theme but kinda sucks
0-no theme or organization
|Length/Flow of Album||5||10-Songs reinforce each other, album isn’t hard to listen to, and the transitions are smooth/appropriate
5- 2 of those things
0-none of these things
|Longevity||5||How relevant will it be in 5, 10, 25 years.|
|Personal Enjoyment||7||10-peak enjoyment
1-Couldn’t hate album more