Wolf Alice's sophomore album Visions of a Life takes its cues from film.Dirty Hit / RCA Records, 2017
6.3 / 10
London-based rock band Wolf Alice return with their sophomore album, Visions of a Life; although, that album title could easily be Diary of Ellie Roswell. Frontwoman Roswell draws from moments in her life to form the narrative behind the band’s latest album. Do the other members behind Roswell have thoughts or emotions? Who cares! They’re here to provide the sonic backdrops (usually mechanical rock riffs and occasional ambient textures). But the star of this band is Ellie Roswell. She can make a song about a watching rom coms on a flight into something interesting (“Sky Musings”). While I can’t relate to it (I hate the film genre), many listeners likely can as they pine for a Hollywood love story.
Films, interestingly enough, seem to play a part in a lot of songs on Visions of a Life. Roswell bases “Beautifully Unconventional” on the film Heathers. Here, the song comes from the perspective of Christian Slater’s character JD. So, with this song, she’s kind of presenting herself as a screenwriter. Also, Roswell does a bit of acting by penning an angry rock song, “Yuk Foo” (a not so subtle play off “Fuck You”), about no one in particular. In it she responds to a jealous boyfriend with a rebellious, “I wanna fuck all the people I meet/ Fuck all my friends and all the people in the street.” After the somewhat tender opening of “Heavenward”, “Yuk Foo” is a jarring anthem of rage.
Then, there’s “Don’t Delete The Kisses”, which plays out almost like a film itself. Roswell assumes the role of director in this case. Here, she goes from fearing love to embracing everything that comes with it. She alternates between singing and a slight rap on the song’s bigger lyrical portions. Basically, it’s like getting a glimpse into Roswell’s diary with her fears and emotions on full display. Musically, it captures a breezy anthemic quality that many will find intoxicating, especially during the song’s chorus. Oh, and it has a happy ending. Why not? Isn’t that what the audience and Roswell want the most? And that’s the rub, Visions of a Life doesn’t feel like a real life. Rather, it’s the one Roswell and most people want to envision.