Single Review : Wolf Alice – Smile


After the stripped back, personal first single off Blue Weekend, Wolf Alice are back, in typical Wolf Alice fashion, with a ferocious fuck you that serves as an antithesis to The Last Man on Earth.

The first thing that hits you with Smile is the huge, catchy guitar that has an overproduced sound to it, giving the impression that you’re almost listening to a riff being played on a midi keyboard. The riff itself has echoes of a song like Formidable Cool from their previous album. Make no mistake, this is undoubtably Wolf Alice, but a far more pumped-up version than we have ever seen before. When the drums come in alongside the guitar, they sound bigger than anything the band have released up until this point, with the production on the track as a whole being pretty close to faultless. 

However, although sonically this may seem like the complete opposite to their first single, lyrically the personal intimacy remains, though admittedly coming from a different place. With lines like “I am what I am and I’m good at it, and you don’t like me well that isn’t fucking relevant” giving any past haters a sense that they are being addressed directly by lead singer Ellie Rowsell. On their previous album cycle the band, and specifically Rowsell, received backlash from many people for the lyrical content on lead single Yuk Foo. Lines like “I wanna fuck all the people I meet” were attacked by, mostly male, fans that felt she was being ‘too vulgar’, and I can’t help feeling that Smile is a not so passive way of saying “Fuck off” to anyone that took that stance 4 years ago.

The lyrics in the verses are delivered in a half conversational, half rap style that sounds like nothing the band have ever tried before but it works perfectly, clearly Ellie had a lot to get off her chest and this was the best way to do it. The choruses then explode into an almost dreamy chant that still manages to keep its aggression in a way that only Wolf Alice can.

Yet again Wolf Alice have proven that when it comes to eclecticism in rock music, none come close. Giving fans something to look forward to mosh to when their next tour comes around, Smile is a band at the peak of their powers.

Smile premieres tonight at 6pm on the Annie Mac Show via BBC Radio 1