Review Summary: My Love is "Underwhelming" sounds about right.
It's their first full length album, so I really can't be too harsh on them for playing to their influences, but My Love is Cool comes off as uninspired and dull in a majority of the album. What I heard in the opening track, "Turn to Dust" offered a dreamy and relaxing intro into what I thought would be a fuzzy and powerful indie rock record with a playfully 'don't give a ***' punk attitude. At least that's what I assumed from the singles I heard crawling around on my Soundcloud. I'm mostly correct, especially the charisma department, but everything is actually far more subdued than what I had imagined. It's not powerful and the 90’s alternative rock and grunge aesthetic over top of everything comes off as boring and drab amidst the times when I think the band is showing their actual sound and strengths.
Numerous times I'm listening to the album and I pick up something that catches interest is immediately gone, like dangling a piece of cheese in front of a mouse and luring him into a trap. A trap of blaring distorted guitars that all meld together into a wall of sound that can only be described as bleak and unoriginal. So many times. For instance, "Giant Peach" has a killer dirty riff going on in the very beginning of the track, and it just drifts away into an annoying first verse. "Freazy" teases me a lush and melodic intro only to leave me with the lead vocalist, Ellie Rowsell's, disconnected vocal delivery. She has a very mesmerizing voice when she wants to show it, especially when she's not singing verses and is using her voice as another instrument, but the tone that she uses to tread through the thick fog of bland power chords is not successful. What I have just described goes on for another 5-6 scattered tracks, because none of them bring anything new to the table in their repetitive songwriting and production.
However, there were two gems that awoke me from my dozing off - which were the two longest and most varied in their league. "Swallowtail", the first and only track that we hear a male vocalist near the back half of the album, gives a passionate performance on top of a beautifully played acoustic. Then the final track at almost 7 minutes is by far the standout of the LP, "The Wonderwhy." Accurate in it's title, I do wonder why they couldn't have done anything like this and "Swallowtail" for the previous 35+ minutes I was around for. The song actually appears to be split into 3 different songs built into one that seamlessly transition into one another. It starts off with their usual post-grunge type antics, but then around the middle it changes into a nice grimy little indie pop jam that far from overstays its welcome. That lasts maybe 45 seconds at most only to leave us with utter silence for a minute with beautiful vocals from Rowsell, her best delivery in the album, with once again a jangle tinged acoustic guitar to boot.
If only there were more songs like those two. Wolf Alice shows much more passion and interest in their slower, dreamy, and stripped back approach to only a couple songs on this album. There are more slower and melodic highlights just like those across My Love is Cool that truly show me their strengths, but just like the mouse and cheese, they leave in the blink of an eye only to allow the band to reintroduce the same grainy and drab formula onto what I thought they were going to claim as their own.