“You can join us if you think you’re wild,” Ellie Rowsell sang on “Freazy”. “You can join us if you’re a feral child.”
Many like minds answered the call. Since Wolf Alice’s debut album My Love Is Cool was released back in 2015, Wolf Alice has had the sort of success that many young bands must wait years to achieve.
“The past two years were such amazing highs and then really extreme lows that you've never encountered before,” says Ellie. “That’s this album.” It’s such disorientating details, miniature epiphanies and tiny apocalypses from an extreme ride and the lull that came after, that make up Wolf Alice’s second record, Visions Of A Life.
It’s the classic story. You slog your ass off to make your debut, you tour like a demon, you hit the heights, you get no sleep. Then, when you finally come off the road, you come home to an empty house. “There's some extremely concentrated emotional fluctuation,” says bassist Theo Ellis.
Instead of floundering or foundering, Wolf Alice channeled their restless energy into a forward motion. “On the first record maybe we were trying to hold back certain aspects, stylistic things,” says guitarist Joff Oddie. “With this one, we thought ‘we can do what we want’.”
Visions Of A Life is packed with surprises for those who think they know what Wolf Alice’s shtick is. A gauntlet is hurled by the exhilarating rage-rush “Yuk Foo,” the first track released from the sophomore album. “You bore me, you bore me to death,” screams Ellie. “Deplore me? No I don't give a shit.” Who is the “you” being addressed – or perhaps more appropriately, being dressed down – though?
“We wanted to make it open to interpretation, so that anyone who was frustrated at something could have it as their anthem,” says Ellie. She herself was inspired by “being sick and fed up of certain expectations... for me a lot of it is about being a young woman. Even the shit, everyday wolf-whistle thing. As I get older, I feel like ‘Why have I always put up with that?’ When I sing that kind of song, it’s everything that I want to do when that happens.”
It’s a good time, of course, for anthems of anger. “I think almost everyone feels frustrated right now, don't they?” says Ellie. “And petrified as well,” adds Theo. “I read the news this morning and I was physically scared.”
Though political turmoil seeped into the emotional extremes of Visions Of A Life, it’s fundamentally a personal album, and one of great growth for Wolf Alice.
You might have noticed the word “friend” comes up a lot in relation to Wolf Alice. More than anything, that’s what these feral children are and what they celebrate. The intensity of success – something that breaks or at least tests many young bands – brought them only closer together.
“It's a weird thing,” says Theo. “I hope I'm not jinxing it by saying this but we really do spend a lot of time together... we know each other so well, intricately well, more than you would have in marriage. It's so close that it almost takes on a new state rather than like a relationship or like a friendship. Maybe it's not very necessarily healthy...”
If it sounds this good, how can it be wrong? Here’s to Wolf Alice, a reason for downhearted feral children to keep faith with the future.