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Wolf Alice

Britpop/shoegaze/grunge alive and well and living in North London? Probably not, but the ELASTICA or CURVE-like WOLF ALICE come close. With The DUKE SPIRIT out of the way on a hiatus, singer-songwriter/rhythm guitarist Ellie Rowsell and Co went from top prospects in 2013 to a near No.1-achieving band a few years on.
Gleaning their moniker from a short story by Angela Carter (incidentally turned into the movie, The Company Of Wolves), WOLF ALICE formed in 2010 when Ellie and lead guitarist Joff Oddie issued a self-titled CD-r comprising 3 tracks: `Every Cloud’, `Destroy Me’ and `Wednesday’. Finally adding the rhythm section of bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey in 2012, their chances of making the grade looked promising as they swiftly deposited `Leaving You’ for a free download into Soundcloud. Played on BBC Radio 1, it duly prompted disc-jockey Huw Stephens to give them session air-time to boost initial sales of their 7-inch debut platter, the shout-y `Fluffy’; released by Chess Club in February 2013. `Bros’ and the 4-track EP `Blush’ (featuring exclusive cuts: `Blush’, `She’, `Nosedive’ and `Ninety Mile Beach’) wrapped up their indie phase prior to signing to R.C.A. Records spin-off Dirty Hit.
After a relatively quiet year in which the band released only one EP, `Creature Songs’, led out by the HOLE-esque `Moaning Lisa Smile’ (aimed strictly for a US audience), 2015 was predicted by UK Festival Awards to be their “breakthrough” year. The candy-pop-grunge `Giant Peach’ and the aforesaid `Moaning…’ 7-inch singles were chosen to preview their long-anticipated Mike Crossey-produced debut album, MY LOVE IS COOL {*8}. Kept off the UK number one spot by a resilient FLORENCE Welch + Co, “good-girl-gone-bad” Ellie and her WOLF ALICE troupe combined elements of SILVERFISH, BLONDE REDHEAD and The PRIMITIVES on the dynamic `You’re A Germ’, `Lisbon’ and `Freazy’.
Subsequently nominated for a Grammy, the awesome Ellie and Co were wise enough to rope in kindred-spirit/L.A. producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen to weave his magic for 2017’s sophomore set, VISIONS OF A LIFE {*9}. If rock was dead, no-one had informed the genre’s elixir of life WOLF ALICE, a group that could shapeshift from explicit post-grunge/punk (`Yuk Foo’, `Formidable Cool’ and `Space & Time’), to anthemic shoegaze (`Don’t Delete The Kisses’, `Sky Musings’ and `Heavenward’), to psych-folk (`After The Zero Hour’ and `Planet Hunter’) and even epic prog in the finale title track. Sadly, Americans hadn’t quite endeared themselves to their commercial potential, but that mattered not to a band notching another Top 3 slot; add to that their deserved Mercury Prize in September 2018, which catapulted the album back into the Top 20.
© MC Strong/MCS Jun2015-Sep2018

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