From its very opening strains it is apparent that ‘My Love Is Cool’ is a contender for the album to soundtrack this summer. The debut LP from North London buzzband Wolf Alice, this is a record that has been hotly anticipated and, as a whole, it does not disappoint.
The quartet opens with the delicate Turn to Dust, with engagingly sweet vocals from Ellie Rowsell and mesmerising guitar melodies. It’s a strange, modern take on that mythical British folk sound, and it’s really quite beautiful.
The record ebbs and flows from this point, retaining that innocent, tender sentiment whilst also becoming getting increasingly loud and grungy – as if Wolf Alice grow in confidence and angry yearning in the midst of those romantic, growing pains.
You’re A Germ is perhaps the best exemplar of this. The recounting of the not-exactly-love story of schoolgirl Georgie, it begins all soft and subtle before bursting to life all growling, feral vocals and brutally distorted guitars. From the pretty, if eerie, intonations of “you’re a creep” to the straight-up yowl of “you ain’t going to heaven!”, it’s a transformative track that is thrilling to say the least, somehow recalling that disconcerting yet beautiful vibe from Big Star’s Thirteen.
While some have posited that the group wear their influences on their sleeves, with such an abundance of varied influences apparent it seems an irrelevant point to make. The opening of Lisbon faintly brings to mind Joy Division, but it turns into more of a wailing siren of a track than such a comparison gives them credit for. There are lots of scuzzy, grunge-y elements too, but Wolf Alice are providing a fresher sound than them just being the latest in a line of ‘90s alt-rock wannabes. There’s an ample dose of darling, youthful indie moments, but Wolf Alice aren’t just the next Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
Silk starts as seductive as the name might suggest, all sultry, simple bass and gossamer vocals. But, again, it grows into something weirder than that with oddly clashing, whirring harmonies taking the fore as the track unfolds. There are delightfully fluid melodies on Freazy, while Giant Peach is fantastic in its almost riotgrrrl audacity.
Swallowtail is all soaring elegance before crescendoing into something more. And then there’s the primally slow, sonic breathlessness of Soapy Water, followed by the roaring monster of Fluffy. The Wonderwhy seems the perfect closing track, bringing together all the elements of the record – that disarming softness juxtaposed with a gloriously pressing sense of urgency.
It perhaps won’t change any lives, but ‘My Love Is Cool’ is certainly a debut with finesse. Wolf Alice have successfully amassed romantic and raucous sounds from a variety of genres, but rather than seeming nostalgic or “done before” it is a record remarkable for its immediacy.