ELLIE WHAT WOULD YOUR MUM THINK? A (hopefully) humorous enquiry from a Youtube commenter that summarises everything that is so brilliant about Wolf Alice’s raucous new single ‘Yuk Foo.’
Uncompromising and incendiary, the first indication of what we can expect from Wolf Alice’s sophomore record Vision Of A Life presents them as a band reborn and with a seering rage at their core.
More akin to the music of Bikini Kill or Babes In Toyland than any of the modern day contemporaries that they’ll play alongside at gigs and festivals, the track’s abrasive nature that is consolidated in both its lyrical content (you bore me, you bore me to death well deplore me, no I don’t give a shit) and the similarly outrageous instrumentation marks the dawning of a new era for the band. However, what makes this track truly important is that may mark a sea change for the industry at large.
To date, Wolf Alice’s career has been typified by a period of steadily growing fame that would culminate in exponential growth upon the arrival of their fantastic debut album My Love Is Cool. Although the seeds of the unhinged punk rock sound that we now have before us were undoubtedly sown on that album and particularly on tracks such as ‘You’re A Germ’, ‘Giant Peach’ and ‘Lisbon’, they have now ascended to a level in which they’re comfortable enough in their collective skin to do what comes naturally.
In the midst of such widespread success, there was unquestionably a level of intrigue around what their new album would sound like and whether they’d slip into the chasm of ‘playing it safe’ that so many bands have fallen foul of over the years. What is so refreshing about the approach and particularly ‘Yuk Foo’ serving as the opening gambit for the new record is just how much it subverts from the belief in ‘radio friendly’ singles being the cornerstone of a campaign.
Many young bands spend hours in the practice studio cultivating a sound that is the truest representation of what they aim to achieve but are sharply told that they it must be refined or to remove the ‘hard-edged’ aspects of it. In the face of a perpetually crowded marketplace, these artists are often forced to look at the wealth of evidence presented in the shape of today’s big guitar bands are relent on their vision in favour of a more palatable sound to the masses.
In many ways, it works; their tracks surface on the radio, they get airplay in high street clothing stores to the nonplussed response of shoppers and might even get co-opted by a major company for an advertisement. What this formula doesn’t provide is something for people to really sink their teeth into and pledge their undying allegiance to. It causes bands to become just another formulaic face in a bustling crowd rather than a group that refuses to stand on ceremony and define themselves on their own terms.
In this manner, the Ellie Roswell-led group have recalled a bygone era where the pop charts bent to the will of the bands’ creativity and original artistry was widely rewarded by the public’s praise. Similarly, this mindset is more commonly found in hip-hop over the course of the past few years and is exemplified in the work of pioneering figures such as Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Run The Jewels. As opposed to adhering to what is popular whilst they’ve been decamped in the studio working on a new project, they have routinely ventured ahead on their own course and both the industry and fans have applauded them for bravely doing so.
With ‘Yuk Foo’, Wolf Alice have balked every possible trend and yet it was still premiered live on BBC Radio 1 with Annie Mac, is the subject of near-constant Vevo adverts on YouTube and; most importantly, absolute adoration from a fanbase that is willing to let them blossom.
What this says to all up-and-coming bands is that if your material resonates with an audience, then it doesn’t matter if it’s capable of being provided to the masses on Radio 1’s A-list or played in the background of a montage of goals on SportScene. Delivering something which is true to yourself in spite of whether it’s challenging or unorthodox should never be eschewed in favour of towing the line and hopefully Wolf Alice’s ethos will be adopted across the board.
Check out the chaotic ‘Yuk Foo’ below now: