Although I have been familiar with Wolf Alice for years now I must admit that I have never spent significant amounts of time with their work for, well, no particular reason at all. Given that the group just released their third album, which is already being considered possibly their best work yet, I'd say this is an appropriate time to get familiarized with Wolf Alice at a much deeper level. It's not like I'll have quite the same significant level of depth to share on any of their albums if I don't start from the top, right?
I'll thank myself for that decision now. My Love is Cool, the debut album from Wolf Alice, came with a great deal of hype at the time in the UK. Beginning as an acoustic duo of Rowsell and Oddie, eventually adding in a rhythm section and becoming a more rock-oriented group, Wolf Alice already had five years of experience, singles, and EP material before their debut album. That is probably why My Love is Cool doesn't read remotely like a bands first effort and more like the culmination of years preparing for a grand statement.
My Love is Cool lives up to that great hype as a larger than life statement, full of richly textured songs that feel grandiose but still riotous. The four-piece never necessarily veer too far away from the sound that they reach for, but still they seem to grab everything their arms can snag and bring it into the fold. Their debut most closely resembles our basic conception of indie rock, but with ethereal dream pop tones, lush shoegaze guitar riffs, raucously grungy side roads, the incorporation of acoustic guitars, and undeniably catchy pop hooks, calling My Love is Cool an indie rock album would be downright criminal. There are certainly adventurous indie rock groups out there, but Wolf Alice top that crowd without shedding a shred of their swagger - it's like the versatility comes without batting an eye.
The groups debut is also rife with memorable work. There's a strong mixture of songs that feel like they add depth to the record and others that merely feel like massive moments of their own; for every uber-consistent Lisbon and Soapy Water, you also have the unforgettable Bros and Moaning Lisa Smile. It gives My Love is Cool a well-rounded feeling, never outdoing itself so much that tracks become overshadowed, but never meddling so much that it all becomes lost. It's a hard plane to navigate, but once again Wolf Alice find their way around it effortlessly.
What Wolf Alice accomplish most is being their own group, diverging deeply from the modern indie rock sound without boxing themselves straight into a nostalgic '90s throwback. Few groups are able to incorporate the alternative rock signatures at such a high quality without deafening comparisons to every staple of the genre, and although there are certainly clear inspirations to many groups in the medium none feel so resounding that they merit any mention here. Instead, Wolf Alice are simply themselves and are damn great at being just that. If this is where the group started, it's refreshing to think what the group might have in store next.
Favorite track: Moaning Lisa Smile