Album Review: Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life (2017)

  • Originally posted on February 22, 2019

I can’t read sheet music. This album is two years old. Why would I choose to write my first album review on this?

Because it hit me like a fucking train.

I’ve listened to some of the songs a hundred times before —Don’t Delete The Kisses, for example. But I had never listened to the album track one to twelve before without pausing. And this was where I was missing out.

Everyone interprets meaning differently and that goes for music as well. And this is, in my view, the point of this album. Not just in the single songs, the twelve views of the world, but as the whole piece put together.

‘Visions Of A Life’, for me, is someone who is dying. To us, it is 46 minutes, but for them it is twelve moments. They see the good times, the distant past, the anger, the missed opportunities as they flicker through their life. ‘Heavenward’ depicts someone who has accepted their fate (whether that is death itself, or the end of the illusion that they must fight to meet society’s expectations), and heading for the angels.

‘Yuk Foo’ follows this, the most aggressive segment by far and a clear change in mood. She is screaming at her past, at herself, at everyone. Is it because she is thinking of her past mistakes? Of the illusion that she has been forced to conform to society? Or something else?

‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ has a nostalgic vibe. She is imagining the life she could have had, all of the chance meetings that shape us. Imagine if you had spoken to someone else that day? Set your alarm for an hour later? Gone to the shops at a different time? Your life could be completely different…

Tracks five to ten could be about depression and sadness, yet they all approach them differently. Indeed, ‘Sky Musings’ considers what would happen in the event of a plane crashing, whilst sitting on said plane. What if it plunged into the ocean, and you and everyone else around you died? But more than that. She seeks help, from someone, anyone, in this case potentially God. She wishes someone understood. And the final lyric, ‘new phase’, shows she has accepted herself for who she is, and she can see what has happened to her. And it is no coincidence that this marks the halfway point of the album.

Track nine, ‘Sadboy’, especially hit me. She is speaking to her former self, tinged with regret but at the same time trying to get her younger self to understand that she is in self-destruct mode. But it also has a deeper meaning for me. If she is dying, and speaking to her former self, that is one thing, yet for the final verse it sounds as if her precious self is replying to her. But is she changing her past? Is she in the past or present? What if her actual life is being played in these moments and she is trying desperately to change her future?

‘Visions Of A Life’ changes once more for the final two tracks. ‘After The Zero Hour’ feels like a clear contrast to ‘Sadboy’. She is embracing her life, realising that it is her final chance. Which leaves the question — was her moving ‘Heavenward’ self-inflicted, did she give up on existing? And now, having looked at her life in all its forms, has she finally found its true meaning and realised that she wants to carry on?

The final track, ‘Visions Of A Life’, is the perfect conclusion. She has always felt different, not satisfied with society’s expectations, and all she wants is happiness. She even refers to some of the last eleven moments, and realises why she is who she is. And she sees that everyone has a different view (or vision) of life. Everyone is made happy by different things.

At last, she is at peace.

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