The British Invasion: Wolf Alice

While Brit bands like Pink Floyd and Queen have always been personal playlist-makers, my Spotify was dominated by good ole Americans. However, spending a semester abroad at the University of Nottingham has allowed me to submerge myself in British culture—which is surprisingly different from that of the States—and truly get a feel for modern English alternative music. One of these bands is Wolf Alice: a cool, eclectic group that marries classic 90s grunge with folk and electronica.

Wolf Alice’s first studio album My Love is Cool has been making waves in the UK music scene, peaking at the number two on the 2015 UK Albums chart, getting outstanding reviews, and earning a nomination for the 2015 Mercury Prize—which celebrates the best UK-based albums of the year. Wolf Alice also snagged the title of iTunes’ Best New Artist/Band, and has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Performance with their song “Moaning Lisa Smile.”

The debut album—which follows two rough-edged EPs—shows the sheer ability of the four-piece alternative band from North London to create edgy, deliberate music that is both clean and grungy. Each song is distinct, with quite a few different sounds and genres serving as inspiration throughout the album. Songs like “You’re a Germ” and “Giant Peach” employ heavier guitar riffs, post-grunge lyrics, and almost Joan Jett-esque vocals for a more hardcore punk feel, while the lighter instrumentals and breathier sounds of “Turn to Dust” and “Swallowtail” create folky, near-acoustic ballads. Wolf Alice also plays with the sounds of electropop in songs such as “Soapy Water” and “Silk.” This mix of genres create a well-rounded album that appeals to a wide range of alternative rock listeners.

In addition to creating some incredibly diverse new songs, Wolf Alice reworks two old tracks. “Bros,” originally released in 2013, has been rerecorded to more effectively show the talents of the four musicians, with cleaner and more powerful vocals and instrumentation. The same goes for “Fluffy;” the song has remained essentially the same in composition while becoming richer in sound. In fact, this fun track has become even more fun, with higher-pitched screaming and heavier guitar. The cleaner sound of these updated songs shows the new-found professionalism of the band while adding to My Love a much-appreciated nod to Wolf Alice’s roots.

The much-needed album has resonated with old fans while gaining Wolf Alice a new following. The well-rounded and well-thought-out My Love is Cool is diverse, deliberate, and surprising—see “The Wonderwhy”—enough for the Wolf Alice to continue grabbing nominations and wins, and to invade the playlists of Americans across the country.

–Aubrey Rieder

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