When Wolf Alice introduced themselves in 2010 they were just a duet consisting of Ellie Roswell (singer/guitar) and Joff Oddie (guitar). The duo performed mostly acoustic yet eclectic-rock inside London’s trendy, riverside cafés or a small galleries. After expanding to a quartet that originally included Sadie Cleary and James DC but now features bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey since 2012, Wolf Alice’s path to iconic indie status entered the fast lane. Their second EP, Blush, unveiled a raw, edgy style while songs like “Fluffy” and “Bros” showcased their expansive and cinematic approach. Since then, Wolf Alice have continued to be predictably unpredictable.
Their debut album, My Love Is Cool, was a vast soundscape of scorching riffs, catchy pop hooks, and melancholic vibes. 2017’s Visions of Life was daring, ambitious, and expansive. It was an exhilarating adventure that traversed through the cosmos with dazzling shoegaze to the grind of the underground with uproarious post-punk and all destinations in-between. With their records, Wolf Alice have become the standard by which all indie bands – and not just UK outfits – are judged. They raise the bar higher with their long-awaited return and a song that yet again surprises.
“The Last Man On Earth” encapsulates Wolf Alice’s many sides in four and a half minutes. Its melancholic first half – which features just Roswell, a delicate piano arrangement, and a low humming synth – is calm yet beautiful. Roswell’s voice is lusher than ever, and she depicts humanity’s insatiable desire for more through the symbol of one man. Influenced from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, her opening words are: “Who were you to ask for anything more? / Do you wait for your dancing lessons to be sent from God?”
Later she reminds us that: “Who are you to ask for anything else? / The thing you should be asking is for help.” As she utters the final word, Oddie, Ellis, and Amey join in and the song soars into a bold, gorgeous, and euphoric climax. It then shifts gears, meshing cinematic pop with psychedelic and glam-rock flourishes in a David Bowie fashion. While the music is uplifting, Roswell anchors us in reality. She reminds us that despite the emerging light, darkness still lingers within a few. We can, though, counter it:
“A penny for your truth
But I hedge my bets on love
‘Cause it’s lies after lies after lies
But do you even for yourself
And then the light shines on you
And when your friends are talking
You hardly hear a word
You were the first person here
And the last man on the Earth
But the light”
Wolf Alice are Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis, and Joel Amey. They are arguably the best indie band of the past decade.
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