#48. Wolf Alice: My Love Is Cool
Rock isn’t what it used to be. As a culture we’ve grown so accustomed to it that it’s been dethroned as the most subversive genre of music (a mantle that’s been taken up by hip-hop—although even that has already begun the same process of demystification). As David Bowie said in a turn-of-the-century interview with BBC Newsnight, being a rocker has gone from a “dead, dodgy occupation” to a “career opportunity.” Forget about Walmart rock acts like James Bay and Walk the Moon; even obstreperous post-punk quartet Arctic Monkeys have traded in their baggy jeans and bedhead for designer leather jackets and hyper-stylized James Dean hair gel.
The four London-based twentysomethings known as Wolf Alice are much closer to the original breed of rocker than most of their contemporaries. They’re not trying to be sexy. They don’t care if you put up a poster of them in your bedroom. They care about the music. What’s even better is that they’re not just some revival act (no offense, Leon Bridges). Their debut album My Love Is Cool is as fresh and unique as any other rock album that came out in 2015.
What’s special about Wolf Alice’s sound is not that it blends preexisting subgenres into some brand new cocktail, but rather that it allows them to coexist harmoniously. In a word, the album is versatile, and not a single track feels extraneous. “Bros” channels 21st century folk rock as frontwoman Ellie Rowsell sings a sweet, understated ode to her best friend. “Moaning Lisa Smile” is a fiery grunge jam that would make Kurt Cobain proud, and it got the band their first Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance. Rowsell’s confident squawks and snarls on the post-punk “Fluffy” somehow lock in seamlessly alongside hidden gem and ever-crescendoing ballad “Silk,” which finds her crying that she’s “just looking for a protector / God never reached out in time.”
My Love Is Cool isn’t the type of debut album that screams “instant classic,” like Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. But it’s the type of debut that will only get better with age. Years from now when Wolf Alice is recognized as one of the best rock bands of the 2010’s, My Love Is Cool will be looked back on fondly as having laid the necessary groundwork for an already talented band to evolve into one of the greats.