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Album of the Week: 'My Love is Cool' by Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice’s debut LP, My Love Is Cool, is a shotgun blast of 90’s musical genres against a blank canvas that has somehow stuck, leaving a Jackson Pollock spray of grunge, shoegaze and rock that makes up in enthusiasm what it lacks in coherency.

For all their chameleon tendencies on this satisfying, 48 minute debut, Wolf Alice remain at their cutting, insouciant best when delivering punchy, buzz-saw rock in chewable chunks of sub-four minutes. “You’re A Germ” is a grungy, loud-quiet-loud takedown of the proverbial ‘creep’ that featured so prominently in 90’s culture. Wolf Alice does this with a sense of adventure and with a sneer; they were toddlers during the final schisms of the alternative music revolution, when underground was planted firmly above ground and with a hefty price tag to boot.

Little of the subsequent mayhem of this album, nor the pastiche fruit basket of genres, is apparent from opening track “Turn To Dust”, which features some of the clearest guitar of the album and lamenting, wistful lyrics: “If fear is in the mind / my mind lives in fear / as deep and as vast as the dirty British sea.” These lyrics betray a somewhat despairing view of modern day Britain, but they are a misnomer; subsequent songs will be ploughing the well-furrowed fields of failed relationships and small town constraints, rather than draw any grander narrative. For an album that borrows heavily the motifs and mores of 90’s musical culture, it feels like a missed opportunity.

My Love Is Cool, though, is an album that shouldn’t be overthought, if only for the reason that it’s just so damn fun. “Lisbon” is a guitar apocalypse that British shoegaze band Ride’s Mark Gardener would be proud of. “Swallowtail”, deep in the second half of the album, sounds like a B-side from Slowdive’s Souvlaki; it is delightful, a true sun-through-the-cloud moment that feels not like a respite but an affirmation. It also showcases the versatility of the band, guitarist Joff Oddie taking the lead over vocalist Ellie Rowsell. In fact, their back and forth throughout the album, though tastefully restrained, is one of the highlights.

A few hiccups, befitting of their youth and this being their first LP, are present on the album, though they are more endearing than boring. The electro punch of “Soapy Water” is a bit ham-fisted, but it ends before you really have time to reflect on the square peg-ness of it all. Likewise, “The Wonderwhy”, a disjointed hidden-track song at the end of the album, seems more suited to a Coldplay album than the conclusion of a raucous, pastiche indie rock album.

Overall, however Wolf Alice have reason to be satisfied with a debut LP that seizes on a zeitgeist of 90’s revivalism that is rapidly gaining momentum in the pop culture of our current decade. More than simply being at the right place at the right time, though, Wolf Alice are the crest of a wave that will only gather momentum. The 90’s are to 2015 what the 70’s were to 1994. The copyrights have expired: it’s time to dismantle that marvellous decade, and give it the benefit it truly deserves.

8/10

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