The memorable moments at Glastonbury 2015 were as plentiful as the iconic festival has seen in many a year. Many regarded it as one if its best yet. From *rockstar* Yeezy and his Freddie Mercury attempt, the unlikely duo of Patti Smith and The Dalai Lama, to the surprise masterclass from The Libertines and legendary Lionel drawing the biggest crowd of the weekend at Worthy Farm.
But also, the image of one lead singer being triumphantly held aloft on The Park Stage is quickly becoming the iconic image for 2015 festival.
Understated in plain denim jeans, thin with dirty-blonde hair, Ellie Roswell of Wolf Alice had left the stage to join the adoring soggy revellers for a finale hurrah as her band rocketed through the anthemic ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ – just one of several pre-album bangers from the outfit. The crowd surfing foray came on a weekend in which Ellie and Wolf Alice confirmed themselves as champions of 2015.
Of course, at the start of the year, the customary predictions saw music experts earmark Years & Years, James Bay and Krept & Konan as the ones who would shape the newest sounds in 2015. Least to say tribly-loving James Bay scored a Number 1 album following his BRITs Critics Choice Award. BBC Sound of 2015 poll-toppers Years & Years then lit up the airwaves with their dancefloor anthem ‘King’. And, Krept & Konan have more hit collaborators than you can shake a stick at for their upcoming debut album as the MTV Brand New duo threaten to reshape the face of UK grime.
But all of that is so predictable.
That isn’t to say that Wolf Alice are overnight sensations by any means, and if you had listened closely enough to the underground howls and cries of social media then you’d have known these London cubs were always going to cause a scene once they impacted. Their standout performance at Glasto wasn’t just what crowned the breakthrough band of the year. Nor was their backstage cover of Scissor Sisters either – oh no!
The arrival of their eagerly awaited debut album My Love Is Cool brought this grunge-inspired indie-rock quartet to the festival riding of wave of high praise. Their masterpiece is a finessed collection of tracks that brought teenage cynicism to the masses with a robust sound that oozed confidence that is well beyond their years.
With the hits are fast and flowing, lead single ‘Giant Peach’ is a proud powerhouse of noise complete with grunge sensibilities. Its follow-up, the revisited (more richly layered) ‘Bros’, comes with this dreamy ‘sheep in wolves clothing’ sound that displays Wolf Alice’s ability to improve upon their already impressive sound. And that’s just two of the tracks!
But then, not giving them all they want at once, the album (after a mid-week stint at Number 1) came in at 2nd place; pipped by last-minute Glasto headliner Florence + The Machine (reportedly by just a few hundred copies too). The tykes must feel a little sore about being so close but like any wounded animal, the chance to return stronger makes their even more fearsome. Nonetheless, with great pride they took a second slot, somewhat poetically, behind a band with their own enigmatic frontwoman in Florence Welch.
The glory for Wolf Alice also crossed the Atlantic as My Love Is Cool was also released in the U.S . to equally fanatical reviews. In addition, following a mass of festivals shows coming up in the next few months, Wolf Alice head out on tour in the late summer. Their growth is evident – confined to basements just 12 months ago – their September tour ends in a much bigger enclosure: London’s Brixton Academy. When you tie the endless feats together, the bigger picture of Wolf Alice falls into place.
Built on a bed of powerful rock sensibilities and the ability to write engrossing choruses, Wolf Alice have brought back a sound and frontwoman music has been missing for some time. In a time built meticulously analysing women in music, Ellie Roswell has brought back the ideals of women in rock music. Sonically more accessible than equally-celebrated Marmozets siren Becca Macintyre, the Wolf Alice frontwoman is perfectly kickass and is quickly becoming a female role model worth shouting about.
The buzzed-about band have, however, regularly been mentioned alongside fellow buzz tag ‘feminism’ due their band name. ‘Wolf-Alice’, a reimagined and empowering fairytale, by Angela Carter tells the story of a feral child realising her own potential as a human and a young lady. Despite the matriarchal variant on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the band has distanced themselves from debates on the hot topic but is evidently self-aware in regards to the subject. Combined with their awesome talent, it makes Wolf Alice one of the most important bands around.
Omnipotent, mercurial, stylish and current but not afraid to face the world, these cubs are growing up fast and shaping a new dawn in rock ‘n’ roll – not just for woman – but all over. That iconic image of fans passing the beaming Ellie Roswell above their heads, its potency strikes as there are few others bands that are worthy parading in the same way as Wolf Alice.
Wolf Alice are the champions of 2015.
Words by Alexander Bradley