Beautifully Unconventional: Wolf Alice Finds New Resonance on ‘Visions Of A Life’

Bitter Sweet Symphonies’ Zoe Peck speaks to Wolf Alice lead guitarist Joff Oddie, ahead of the release of much anticipated second album ‘Visions Of A Life.’ Conceived in the silence succeeding a two-year world tour, the album is the alt-rockers’ answer to their hugely successful 2015 debut album – ‘My Love Is Cool’ which reached #2 in the UK Charts.

The first track – ‘Heavenward’ is the record’s gentle entry. The atmosphere created by sweet and soaring vocals, and talk of angels is immediately shattered with second track ‘Yuk Foo’ which as you might guess, is angry. Vocalist Ellie Roswell shrieks and screams –“You bore me to death” ,“Well, deplore me. No, I don’t give a s***.” The track, said to be an anthem for “anyone that’s frustrated at something or someone,” was deservedly named by Radio 1’s Annie Mac as her Hottest Record In The World in June.

ZP: Extremes and contrast both instrumentally and vocally feature heavily in your music. Where do you think these inclinations come from?

JO: “We like making different types of music and we like writing songs based on different emotions. As a very basic example, if you’re feeling loved up and you’re having a tender moment your voice isn’t gonna do the same thing as when you’re really f****** p***** off and you need to scream at someone. The differing styles of music we feel are a reflection of different aspects of life and the appropriateness of different ways of reflecting that musically.”

Wolf Alice also reflect life visually, in the form of a wealth of music videos with rich narratives and unusually dressed characters cutting striking silhouettes. Third track ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ follows suit as otherwise grungy Ellie dons a ball gown and sings of the charm of “girls who don’t go out and play.” The track, whilst being the catchiest on the record, strengthens the band’s case of being the unapologetic champion of the odd kid.

ZP: As a band you have some cracking music videos, the video for ‘She’ (from debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’) is one of my favourites of all time.

JO: “‘She’?! That’s an interesting one. What is it about ‘She’ that you like?”

ZP: The twist, the reveal. How it draws you into thinking that it’s going to be a standard ‘Boy Meets Girl’ tale, but it’s something else entirely, something more modern and brave.

ZP: The video for ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ shows a bit more of a traditional story. As a band how much creative input do you have when it comes to music videos?

JO: “We have as much creative input as we like on a case by case basis really. That video – ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ was directed by Sophie Muller [collaborations include Beyoncé, Coldplay, Shakira, The Killers, Eurythmics, Blur]. She’s been making music videos for the last – sort of – thirty years; massively experienced and revered. And we went “We don’t know! [Laughs] We’ve got a lot of stuff on at the moment. Go and make a music video!” And that’s a kind of rarity to be honest, I think that everything that we’ve done prior to that one, it’s definitely been our ideas. We worked out a very rough idea and feel about what we’d like to do. Sometimes we work with a single director and sometimes we send that pitch out to a load of directors and they send us stuff back, and we choose from there.”

ZP: In terms of songwriting and delivery there have been some changes since your first album. Tracks ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ and ‘Sky Musings’ show much more of a stream of consciousness delivery that to me, sounds like an anxious internal monologue that goes well, with some subjects touched on such as overthinking text messages. Where might these changes of style stem from?

JO: “Ellie’s grown a lot in her songwriting. I can’t really speak for her lyrically but she has grown a lot and she knows what she’s saying now. There may have been times early on in our career where she may have been tip-toeing around subjects and things, and now I think she’s just going all out.”

ZP: What’s your favourite song on the album and why?

JO: “I love ‘Visions Of A Life’. We’ve never done anything like that before and I think we’ve always wanted to do something in that vein but we’ve never really been able to pull it off. I see it as a real achievement; a really fun piece of music to play.”

At eight minutes long the title track builds until the half way point where it snaps and instruments let loose, ending on the assertion “My journey ends when my heart stops beating/ I’m leaving.

Wolf Alice start their European tour this October. Having won an NME award in 2016 for Best Live Band, they’re known for their high energy shows.

ZP: How do you feel going into the tour?

JO: “We’re a little bit apprehensive to go back to those big venues. It’s been quite a while and we’ve been doing a lot of little ones to get ourselves warmed up and in the right frame of mind. We’re playing Alexandra Palace (in London)… and it’s f****** huge, and the idea of that is terrifying to be quite honest with you. [Laughs] But it’s booked now so we’ve got to do it!”

‘Visions Of A Life’ – a masterpiece for its variety of subject and sound, and ability to act as a comfort in so many emotions, will be released on the 29th September via Dirty Hit Records.

Wolf Alice are touring the UK throughout November:

Wed 08 – O2 Academy, BRISTOL
Thu 09 – O2 Apollo, MANCHESTER
Sat 11 – Barrowland, GLASGOW
Mon 13 – O2 Academy, NEWCASTLE
Wed 15 – Rock City, NOTTINGHAM
Thu 16 – O2 Academy, BIRMINGHAM
Sat 18 – O2 Academy, LEEDS
Mon 20 – Dome, BRIGHTON
Tue 21 – O2 Guildhall, SOUTHAMPTON
Fri 24 – Alexandra Palace, LONDON
Mon 27 – Ulster Hall, BELFAST
Tue 28 – Olympia, DUBLIN

Find Wolf Alice on Facebook and Twitter.

Zoe Peck
Music blogger from Leeds

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