Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool

by Rich Morris Rating:5 Release Date:2015-06-22

Wolf Alice have gained a reputation for fearsome live shows, which makes this debut album something of a surprise. Its first two tracks, ‘Turns to Dust’ and ‘Bros’, sounds less like a grunge revival and more like The Corrs taking tea with The Cranberries.

Thankfully, the tellingly named ‘Your Loves Whore’ roughs things up a bit, its slick yet fuzzy riffing and stop/start dynamics making for a far more engaging backdrop to singer Ellie Rowsell’s coy vocals. It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s an improvement.

The following ‘You’re a Germ’ is even more grungy, starting with a melodic bassline a la ‘Sliver’ before exploding into feedback-lashed noise and a pretty fantastic shout-along chorus. Meanwhile, ‘Giant Peach’ backs up its Pixies-esque title by just rocking like bastard. It’s very odd that neither of these were the opening song.

So after a distinctly lacklustre start, Wolf Alice prove they have the capacity to both write a catchy hook and rock out. However, they don’t do either consistently, and My Love is Cool’s shiny, commercial production proves to be a minus on songs such as ‘Lisbon’. You can sense there’s a righteous noise in there somewhere, but it’s smothered under gloss and unnecessary strings.

The album’s other problem is that it’s far too mid-pace. Proper stomp-alongs are few and far between. More often, Wolf Alice seem content with a slouchy, teen angst trudge. Even ‘Fluffy’, which sounds like Pixies covering Metallica, keeps slowing down for a spot of moody mithering when it could just go for the kill.

Rather than reminding me of L7 or Babes in Toyland, the sulky, pouty likes of ‘Silk’ bring to mind Avril Lavigne, Natalie Imbruglia, or 90s pop-rock outfit Hepburn (if that reference is lost on you, it’s fine). Of course, there’s nowt wrong with a band who can make rock accessible to younger music fans, especially girls who might otherwise be seduced by whatever effluence Simon Cowell is douching out this year, but I’m not sure that’s what Wolf Alice were going for here.

If it isn’t, then the answer would definitely be to shed the shiny production when it comes to album number two. Again, I have no problems with gloss, but My Love is Cool palpably lacks the crunch and thwack of, say, Nevermind. This is focus-group commerciality, the kind where every sound, whether it be a savage riff or, as on ‘Soapy Water’, a flutter of electronics, is simmered down till it merges with every other element, reduced to a palatable burr beneath pitch-perfect vocals.

I’m not saying Wolf Alice need to get Steve Albini in but – no, actually, fuck it, that’s exactly what they should do. As it is, this Wolf simpers when it should snarl. 

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