Smile – Wolf Alice

So NOW Wolf Alice are back. This most chameleonic of Indie bands few detractors often accuse them of not staying in one lane… Like that is a bad thing. If they do a bit of trippy electronica, that’s not punk enough. They do a bit of fuzzed out Sonic Youth style post punk, they’re tourists. Damn the torpedoes! This band cut a fine swell as they race from genre to genre.

I was massively taken with their EP Blush back in the heady days of 2013. Debut album My Love Is Cool followed in 2014. It could possibly be described as an instant classic. So ubiquitous was the uptake from planet indie. 2014 was the year it was finally socially acceptable to have a female lead singer in a rock and roll band. Before this such boldness had been (while not illegal at least) frowned upon by the gatekeepers of that sort of thing.

After Florence + The Machine had flung herself in front of the Kings Horse as an act of suffrage. Courtney Love had moved to England full time to stand playing an endless feedback solo stood in a crater in Hyde Park where Victoria’s statue had been the token State Approved Strong Woman since 1966 (This is the history they don’t teach you in School kids!!!).

It finally seemed a band could be called Wolf Alice and Ellie Roswell could be their singer without everybody addressing her as Alice and considering the three guys in the band as The Wolves. Actually who am I kidding? Many a folk still freak out at the idea of a rock band with different chromosomes and I bet she gets called Alice all the time.

Anyway. The critics will tell you Wolf Alice are like butterflies in a record store flitting from genre to genre playing dress up. I say, they have a sound. They have a thing all their own. They also love to push the envelope.

Just like Yuk Foo and it’s scuzzy punk misled WA fans that they’d bet getting boshed out lo-fi. Don’t Delete The Kisses scared the Kings Horses when they released album number two Visions Of A Life in 2017. It’s ambient tinkly electro seemed too far a departure for some. The kids loved it though. 2nd album single number 3 Beautifully Unconventional ticked all the Camden Barfly boxes and went straight to the indie disco. So, all was well on planet indie once more and Ellie/Alice and her Wolves were in the Throne Room of BBC6 once more.

Once bitten twice shy, The sneak peek single The Last Man On Earth (as in ‘not if you were’) was a subtle, gentle and delicate return from a young rock band who had been gone almost 4 years at this stage. Was this a new direction? Not really but it was soft while times are hard. It’s quite a beautiful track, all movie score synths and Lana Del Rey whispers (at least at the start). They couldn’t resist a big chorus though and the swell is magnificent.

It heralded the Blue Weekend era for the band. The album is imminent. Second single is a much more SFTD proposition. Smile is an indie rock rager with a riff borrowed from a metal band and semi rapped spit bar verses. Chilli Wolf and Her Red Hot Peppers play the hits of the 90’s. You can feel the mosh pit in your knees as it makes it’s way to a dream pop chorus that more than doffs it’s cap to Siouxsie, Belly and QOTSA to cite but three pin holes in the roadmap.

I like this band. Whatever they do has a big pop hook at it’s heart and a solid song under it’s skirts. Wolf Alice know exactly what time it is. It’s almost Indie summer time and they’re back to turn our Springtime weekends blue.


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