New Music Discovery of the Week: Wolf Alice - "Smile"

This week's ALT 104.5 New Music Discovery of the Week is Wolf Alice "Smile" brought to you by Family & Co. Jewelers!

When you hear it at 11AM, 2PM, 5PM, or 8PM let us know if you like it by texting "LIKE" or "DISLIKE" to 91045!

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It is now more than a decade since Wolf Alice began; first as a duo made up of Rowsell and guitarist Joff Oddie, then later expanding to a four-piece, with drummer Joel Amey and bassist Theo Ellis. Their music was magnetic: masters of the fiery chorus, the grunge riff, the whisper and the rebel-yell. Meanwhile Rowsell’s lyrics told of youth and young womanhood, of nights out, best friends, bus rides home; of desire, and rage, freedom, and joy.

A run of EPs was followed, in 2015, by their debut album My Love Is Cool, which reached number two in the UK album charts, and received a Grammy nomination for the track “Moaning Lisa Smile”. Its successor, Visions of a Life, came two years later, and won the 2018 Mercury Prize. There have been global tours, support slots for Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Liam Gallagher, and the band were the subject of a film by revered director Michael Winterbottom.

Writing a follow-up to Visions of a Life was daunting. The success of that album, coupled with the many months spent on tour — the slog of shows and flights and hotels and long bus journeys across many miles, had taken a creative toll. “When we stopped touring,” recalls Rowsell, “I thought ‘Fuck, I haven’t written any songs…’”

She had perhaps acquired some of this defiance through the reaction to Visions’ “Yuk Foo”, when she found that the song’s declaration of “I wanna fuck all the people I meet” was met with horror by some. “As if it was gross that I should be someone who has sex, or is not afraid to talk about it,” she says. “And then I felt annoyed that there are things that people don’t want me to be.” It was this feeling, she says, that inspired the new track “Smile”.

Musically, Blue Weekend finds a new simplicity to its songs. “If you were to strip these songs back, we were going more on feeling than on musical merit,” Rowsell says. “It felt like ‘If we don’t capture that feeling of soul then we’ve not got it’ I think we felt that when you’re really focusing on feeling, or subject matter, or lyrics, you don’t want to get distracted by something too clever.”

This too, she feels is a product of their new maturity as a band. “I remember St. Vincent saying something about when you get older you realise that you’ve been trying so long to not write the songs that are actually just your favourite songs. When you’re younger you think ‘I need to prove to people that I know all the chords and my structures are whacky! And then when you’re older you think ‘I just want to write a song that I would have at my funeral’.”

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