A Google search of the words "guitar music dead" is met with a number of think-pieces from the past five years proclaiming that yes, indeed, guitar music is over. But one headline offers an alternative: "If You Think Rock Music Is Dead in 2017, You Aren't Paying Attention".
Such a sentence could almost double as a thesis statement for Wolf Alice's second album, Visions of a Life. If their 2015 debut My Love is Cool was the coming-of-age teen, running head-first into the most beautifully clichéd emotions of adolescence, Visions of a Life is that character in its early 20s; older, smarter, angrier. It's loud, with crunchy, dense guitars flooding almost every track, and it has more stories to tell.
Singer/guitarist Ellie Roswell's dynamic range is evident on Visions of a Life. The album opens with the ambient Heavenward, an ode to a deceased friend on which Roswell keeps her voice restrained, just out of reach - and just one song later, she's screaming "I don't give a shit" on the punky Yuk Foo. Don't Delete the Kisses is, in Roswell's words, a "balls-out motherf***ing love song;" a gorgeous ascent from the rejection of love to the unapologetic embracement of it. It's a head-out-the-window, summer road-trip kind of love song, entirely cool in its uncool-ness.
The band's talents are at their most cohesive on Sadboy, a thrilling and gloriously comical take on apathetic youth culture: "Who hurt you, sadboy?" Roswell asks. Starting with just playful acoustic guitars, the song shudders and morphs into an astounding, beastly rock song. The track also offers just one example of Roswell's take-no-prisoners approach to fighting misogyny - Formidable Cool is a devilishly angry takedown of a leering, leeching man who deceives a hapless teen.
Musically, Wolf Alice are indebted to alt-rock pioneers such as Garbage and The Pixies, but they keep things fresh and modern enough to ensure their own creative vision stays in control. On Planet Hunter, Roswell says she "left her mind in 2015" - the year of their debut. But whatever nostalgia she holds for that year will soon be erased; 2017 finds Wolf Alice better - and louder - than ever.
Wolf Alice, Visions of a Life
Artist: Wolf Alice
Album: Visions of a Life
Label: Dirty Hit
Verdict: Wolf Alice breathe fire back into alternative rock on triumphant return