Check your letterbox, Wolf Alice fans. The London four-piece have been sending out postcards to those signed up to their mailing list this week, with each one sporting a hazy image, and a mysterious, scrawled message on the back. Looks like the wheels are turning on a new Wolf Alice album, then, after they stated earlier this month that something new was “coming soon.”
Ranging from the romantic to the rage-fuelled, it doesn’t take Sherlock to deduce that these handwritten notes are likely to be lyrics from a ‘My Love Is Cool’ follow-up. With Ellie, Joff, Joel and Theo spending the last few months holed up in Los Angeles, sharing all manner of studio antics, the timing’s right for their return. ‘Wonderwhy’ no longer – let’s unravel what we know about Wolf Alice’s second album.
It’s probably going to be a bit… weird
Wolf Alice were never ones to take the well-travelled path. Though every track on ‘My Love Is Cool’ was an undisputed indie banger, experimentation abounded. From the crunching krautrock of lead single ‘Giant Peach’, through the Slowdive-esque shoegaze of ‘Swallowtail’, and onto ‘Freazy’’s bleached-out pop – ‘My Love Is Cool’ was a debut that housed more genres than you’ve had hot dinners, changing tack whenever the four-piece fancied.
Speaking to NME last year, guitarist Joff Oddie hinted that things were only going to get more left-field second time around. “It’s Wolf Alice, so it’s always going to be confused – stylistically, we’re typically all over the place,” he told us in July 2016. At least he’s honest.
Teasers from the studio also suggest that album two is set to up the ante. Photos of guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Joff Oddie straddling three synthesisers at once, glam-rock style, emerged earlier this year – could there be a keyboard solo or two to come? Various since-vanished Instagram Stories have also shown bassist Theo Ellis wielding all manner of electronic oddities, while this photo of him posing like the best of ‘em next to a Moog synth case confirms our suspicions that they’re digging deeper into the digital realm.
Keyboards were hardly absent on album one, with Joff effortlessly floating between guitar and keys on-stage at Wolf Alice’s infamous live shows, but it looks like things might be taking a decidedly more ivory-led turn for round two.
Weirder still was this photo of drummer Joel Amey clutching the strangest shaped guitar this side of a Guitar Hero character. Joel’s no stranger to strumming a six-string – he took the singer-songwriter spotlight on ‘Swallowtail’, a moody highlight of ‘My Love Is Cool’ – but lord only knows what bizarre sounds he’s been whipping out of this monstrosity. Oh, and he’s been at the keyboards, too. Everyone’s having a go.
They’re still angry
The only full song to be let loose so far is ‘Yuk Foo’, a childishly-titled, devilishly guttural cut of stomping, post-punk-inspired rock. Debuted a handful of times on a U.S. tour last year, it’s Wolf Alice at their most impassioned, the four of them collectively snarling and spitting, gang mentality to the fore.
As an early glimpse of what’s coming out of that studio, it suggests the success of ‘My Love Is Cool’ hasn’t sapped any of Wolf Alice’s grizzled energy. Joel spoke to NME last year about the band’s writing sessions, noting that they tend to write with “things turned up way too loud… you leave rehearsals with your ears ringing and it’s fun.” Perhaps best to pack some earplugs, then.
Some keen-eared fans even managed to decipher the lyrics to ‘Yuk Foo’, uploading their interpretation to Genius. It’s not a happy-clappy affair, with vocalist Ellie Rowsell seemingly detailing her self-destructive side. “I have this rage, you see, it’s fucking blinding / I feel it coming, isn’t it exciting / I feel it coming, get out my way” she screams, before erupting into a bruiser of a chorus – “Cause you bore me, you bore me to death / Well, you bore me / No, I don’t give a shit”. Perhaps not one to play to gran.
Let’s get lyrical
Which brings us nicely to those postcards. They’ve been cropping up all over the shop, with a whole load of excited fans sharing their post to social media (and, cleverly, blocking out their addresses. Safety first, everybody.)
— Ryan Connor Andrew (@RyanConorAndrew) May 25, 2017
The messages scrawled on the back of these postcards read an awful lot like lyrics – “A transcendent invitation / to the zero hour”, reads one. “Who hurt you, sadboy?” another – probably not a jibe at Frank Ocean fans, but we can’t be sure.
“I hope you get to the place you’ve seen / I heard you talk about it, you called it purple and green” reads another of the cards – a rhyming couplet that displays more evidence of Wolf Alice’s fantastical, ethereal lyrical prowess.
Flip the cards over, though, and things get even more tantalising – the snippets on the front read an awful lot like song titles – ‘Yuk Foo’’s in there, for starters. A tentative tracklisting is starting to emerge, with lyrics to boot.
— Jay (@GoronLife) May 25, 2017
‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’
— ellis⚡️ (@bythebatphone) May 25, 2017
‘Space & Time’
— Jo (@j0dieeemily) May 25, 2017
— goose (@ahmayzinglucy) May 25, 2017
— Al (@alext019) May 25, 2017
‘Visions Of A Life’
— benj (@bendaddyy) May 25, 2017
‘St. Purple & Green’
— isaac (@Isaac_Vernon) May 25, 2017
“She lives! She breathes! / She’s beautifully unconventional” reads the lyrical snippet from ‘Beautifully Unconventional’. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves – still living and breathing, the beautifully unconventional Wolf Alice are back. Album two is incoming – watch this space.