The rise to fame of Wolf Alice seems to have occurred overnight. After releasing their debut album My Love is Cool in June earlier this summer, they kicked off an international tour that took them from the United Kingdom all the way to the United States. Just last Thursday, the young Brits sold out U Street Music Hall right here in DC, only about 2 miles away from Georgetown University. Later this fall, Wolf Alice will find themselves in Europe and Asia, playing for crowds in Spain, Holland, France, Germany, and Japan. The foursome, which originally hails from London, consists of Ellie Rowsell (vocals and guitar), Jeff Oddie (guitar), Theo Ellis (bass), and Joel Amey (drums). Their sound has been described as a mix between garage-punk and grunge-pop, but this up-and-coming band transcends these classifications. Clash Magazine once called them “the lovechild of folk and grunge,” thus demonstrating that this band simply cannot be defined by any labels.
Wolf Alice finds its roots in North London in 2010. The group started out as an acoustic act led by Rowsell and Oddie, but they soon decided to include electric elements and recruited a few of their friends to help out. After a few lineup changes, the group found their present members, and released the song “Leaving You” in 2012 on the online music website Soundcloud. In 2013 and 2014, Wolf Alice released the Blush EP and Creature Songs EP, respectively. Finally, in 2015, they released their long awaited debut record My Love Is Cool including the popular tracks “Giant Peach,” “Moaning Lisa Smile,” and “Bros.”
At some points, Wolf Alice seems to have an undeniable retro feel, invoking the musical stylings of 90’s garage and punk bands. However, they still maintain a unique sound that hasn’t been heard before. In their songs, one can find an interesting indie vibe, along with various hard rock, alternative, punk, and pop influences.
One of my favorite tracks is “Blush,” which somewhat obviously comes off of their EP Blush that they released back in 2013. The song is laced with a melancholy reverb guitar and the haunting vocals of Ellie Rowsell. “Blush” builds into an incredible climax near the end of song, but then fades once again as Rowsell asks, “I’m happy now, are you happy now?” Another stand-out in Wolf Alice’s repertoire is “Moaning Lisa Smile,” a heavier, more grunge-tinged track compared to “Blush.” The melody within the chorus along with the layered guitar tracks throughout the song make this a favorite of many rock fans. The lyrics tell a story of failure, and of hiding feelings behind an external mask. Roswell sings, “Scrap the blues if the blues don’t work, flash your teeth though the inside hurts.”
Other notable tracks include “Giant Peach,” “Fluffy,” and “Bros.” While those first two tracks have heavier rock elements, “Bros” offers a refreshing pop-rock element, clearly inspired by Rowsell and Oddie’s acoustic collaborations before the creation of the band. Overall, Wolf Alice’s catalog is too diverse to discuss in one article. Their genre-spanning rock is hard to label, and in this regard, Wolf Alice has fulfilled the punk mentality. They do what they want, and they do not confine themselves to a certain sound to appease others.
Overall, Wolf Alice surely seems to have things figured out for the time being, and this will certainly not be the last time you hear of these rockers.