From pre-Theo + Joel days to now
Adam England
12:27 28th September 2021

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With this year's Blue Weekend, Wolf Alice continued to well and truly smash the glass ceiling of what an "indie" band can do.

Of course, not all of their songs have had the same impact as ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ and ‘Bros’, with some flying under the radar. While it’d be easy just to rattle off the tracks from the early EPs here, instead we’ve got 11 of their most underrated tracks—from those early days right up to the latest album. 

‘Wednesday’ 

Here, we go back over a decade—pre-Theo and Joel—to Wolf Alice’s very first self-titled EP. It’s a trippy folksy journey that really shows off Ellie Rowsell’s voice, and while it’s more stripped-back than the band’s later material, it’s striking to listen to it and see that there’s been clear talent there since day one. 

 

‘Swallowtail’

Coming near the end of My Love is Cool and right after the frenzied post-punk of ‘Giant Peach’, ‘Swallowtail’ might seem like a chance to catch your breath, but it’s an emotional one. Joel takes centre-stage with mellow yet impassioned vocals, and the rousing outro is one of the best things we’ve seen the band do. Ever. 

 

‘Baby Ain’t Made of China’

The B-side to ‘You’re A Germ’, ‘Baby Ain’t Made of China’ also appears on the deluxe edition of the debut album, and it’s classic Wolf Alice as the band combine gentle dream pop with intense grunge, and introspective lyrics about dealing with your own emotions. 

 

‘After the Zero Hour’

Beginning with plucked guitar and almost hushed vocals, the penultimate track of Visions of a Life might lack the sheer power of ‘Yuk Foo’ or the effortless cool synthy shoegaze of ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ but it’s an atmospheric track that conveys perfectly what the early hours of the morning feel like. Ellie has said that she can imagine a Disney princess singing this track, and it’s easy to see what she means. 

 

‘The Wonderwhy’

Ending the debut—hidden track ‘My Love is Cool’ notwithstanding—the ethereal ‘The Wonderwhy’ starts off slowly before gradually building up and back down with crescendos and diminuendos, before a funky, almost-spoken word outro that left fans in 2015 wondering where the band would go next.

 

‘Visions of a Life’

Stop sleeping on this song! Rounding off the album of the same name, it’s a real journey—in many ways, classic Wolf Alice with the quiet/loud contrast between verse and chorus—but it really kicks in after a couple of minutes, becoming more frenetic and experimental. Joining three different parts together, it showcases the band’s sheer musical talent. 

 

‘Planet Hunter’

‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ is a difficult act to follow up on, but ‘Planet Hunter’ does pretty well. It has a sort of wistful quality, all guitar-driven dream pop about not wanting the night to end, and while its inclusion as ‘underrated’ might be contestable, it does at least deserve more recognition.

 

‘Play The Greatest Hits’

The fast-paced ‘Play The Greatest Hits’ is one of the band’s heavier tracks, with punk and grunge influences throughout. In true punk fashion, it’s just two-and-a-half minutes long, but an awful lot is packed into that time. It might not be a favourite with those fans who prefer the more dreamy, mellow side to Wolf Alice, but it’s wonderfully explosive.

 

‘Lipstick on the Glass’

Another from the latest album, ‘Lipstick on the Glass’ starts off as a soft rock ballad before turning into more standard Wolf Alice fare: it’s a track that while perhaps not the explosion of some of their songs, has a wonderfully dreamy, almost trance-like, chorus.

 

‘90 Mile Beach’

Back to early Wolf Alice with ‘90 Mile Beach’, one of the tracks that best conveys their early folk-grunge style. It hints at what the band would later become, and rounds off 2013’s Blush EP in a perfect way.

 

‘Storms’

From the Creature Songs EP, ‘Storms’ packs a punch from the get-go, with chugging drums and a chorus that well and truly bursts into life: a high-octane track worth waiting for.

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Photo: Katie McLellan Salisbury