As the arrival of summer brings yet another glut of new releases, the pressure for bands to deliver just one earworm increases. Especially for those making their debut, as is the case with the first release from London’s Wolf Alice. Heavily anticipated after a series of acclaimed EPs, they at least have a solid fan base behind them that takes a little of the pressure off. Which is probably for the best as, although the album delivers more than its fair share of hooks, My Love Is Cool fails to deliver any standout song. It feels like a contradiction of terms; a dozen well-crafted tracks fail to add up to a well-crafted album. Part of the reason for this is the sheer diversity of styles and approaches seen from one track to the next.
Opener ‘Turn to Dust’ is almost ethereal, with vocalist Ellie Roswell gently leading the semi-acoustic melody, and continues this effect on the next more pop-led ‘Bros’. As the album leads into their more rock-focused tracks, you can feel the band undergoing an identity crisis. Are they the sophisticated rock-ish alt-pop of the xx and Snow Patrol, or are they the straightforward rock of Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam? This leads to some very noticeable dips; ‘You’re A Germ’ sounds like a poor Soundgarden impression. The high standard of lyrics set by previous tracks is entirely undermined with a groan inducing stereotypical story of jilted teenage loves and the lyric “1,2,3,4,5,6,7, I ain’t going to heaven.” Their other sources of inspiration are peppered throughout, with ‘Giant Peach’ closing with a riff that would make Tommy Iommi proud.
Further on in they manage to get these balances just right and can rightly be proud of ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Silk’ as a fantastic mix of poetic yet vivid lyrics, driving guitar from Theo Ellis, and well-executed production from Mike Crossey (whose other credits include The 1975 and Tribes). The most engaging moments come when they brush away obvious influences and show a far more engaging element of RnB and spoken word on ‘Freazy’ and ‘Swallowtail’. It’s here the band display a germ of what could set them apart; the hooks feel generated, instead of just ticked off from the songwriting checklist.
While there is no doubt that Wolf Alice have paid all necessary dues and learned their craft, the far too eclectic style makes My Love Is Cool feel like the band is sometimes auditioning for too many audiences within its 50 minutes. Their glut of talent is undermined by their lack of focus. Nonetheless when they calm down and focus on their own style, they show the real reason why we should pay attention.