What comes to the fore most, is the range of influences that are presented on Visions Of A Life. The title "Visions Of A Musical Past" could have been a correct one. Is this a bad thing? No, Visions Of A Life is an album that is very much alive and shows the growth that Wolf Alice went through since recording its first album. Yes, that comes with being very open where the band's inspiration came from, but also with a load of energy that is jumping out of my speakers with nothing to stop it from infecting me. The energy on Visions Of A Life is barely contained by the recording engineer who must have had a hell of a job to keep it all out of the red.
The album opens with the balled energy of 'Heavenward'. A surge of light into the sky the opening is, after which Wolf Alice shows that it knows its Police and Nirvana, in other words, a great use of dynamics.
With 'Yuk Foo' the brakes really go off. In this punk anthem nothing is held back. Singer Ellie Rowsell sings like death is on her tail. She sings/screams herself through the song in which it is quite clear what "Yuk Foo" stands for.
The sky clears with the intro of the third song, 'Beautifully Unconventional'. There's room to move here without losing the ability to dance to the rhythm. Wolf Alice makes clear that it does not need an overload of noise to present us with a nice song. The album balances out in a great way, leaving the quality totally intact. This was the moment I was starting to be convinced that I was in for a special treat with Visions Of A life.
The popsong 'Don't Delete The Kisses', where the tempo goes down and the mood gets a little darker, with the ongoing keyboard in the background, confirms my opinion. The drums keep a tight rhythm under an atmospheric song, holding things together, keeping them from floating away.
Visions Of A Life has its relaxed moments in which the band is more introspective than you might have surmised from my intro. Yet, I stick by it. There's so much energy on Visions Of A Life. Even when the tempo goes down and the keyboards are more important than guitars. When I mention keyboards, I have to mention the influence of Charlotte Gainsbourg. Despite its higher tempo, 'Sky Musings', could be on an album by Ms. Gainsbourg. Another outing where the band is barely contained, despite the sigh-singing of Ellie Rowsell.
This path is walked on a bit more in 'Formidable Cool'. Compare this to the raving Rowsell in the opening songs and it's almost like there are two female singers in Wolf Alice. The wild Rowsell is released though in this track. The pumping rhythm drives the song forward in a formidable way.
With 'Space & Time' we dive back 50 years in time to the debut album of The Velvet Underground with another singer, the loudest shouting one of The B-52's. It gives Visions Of A Life another great impulse. Even when the influence is so obvious, Wolf Alice comes away with it easily, because this is a fun song.
The album remains in that area, but moves to the West Coast and psychedelia. More in the way Kula Shaker interpreted the music 20 years ago. 'Sad Boy' rocks and floats as if on a trip like The Black Angels are good at. Ellie Rowsell shows all facets of her voice from whisper to primal scream in an impressive way. Fact is, that the diversity of her voice is a major attraction on this album. From vulnerable to a screaming witch, back to a French sigh girl and over to a punk dervish. She all holds it within her and shares these qualities with us in abundance. Yes, I'm impressed.
It seems I missed a lot of commotion around Wolf Alice's debut album. Whatever others may think, let me start the commotion here. Visions Of A Life is an impressive album where the band shows us what it is capable of in 2017 and that is a lot I have to conclude. There is not a dip in the last part of the album. Not a filler in sight. Simply one of the great releases of 2017.
You can listen to 'Yuk Foo' here: