Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
The London four-piece tear up the indie rulebook, combining candyfloss melodies with a feral, grungy edge
A crossword compiler’s clue for the genre of Brit- and Grammy-nominated, north London quartet Wolf Alice might read as follows: “Compound musical form, first half suggestive of nostalgic carrot, the second topping off punk-metal power with a burst of pink (8, 12).” While not the most celebrated forms – at least, not yet – heritage bubblegrunge is certainly one of the hardest to get off your shoe. And as the sticky floor of Folkestone’s Leas Cliff Hall reverberates to the heady thump of Wolf Alice’s drummer, Joel Arney, during the jaunty Your Love’s Whore, it’s worth retracing some key steps along the path that got us here.
Artistically, the first coming of bubblegrunge (which was indeed a thing) probably peaked with the second Breeders’ album, Last Splash, in 1993. The cunning ploy of grafting breezy pop melodies on to an already time-honoured, sludge-rock base persisted for some years – through Veruca Salt’s Seether to the millennial earworm invasion of Wheatus’s Teenage Dirtbag. Demographically, the omens were certainly propitious for a triumphant return – as much time had passed between the Breeders defining the genre and the 2015 release of Wolf Alice’s debut album My Love Is Cool as separated Nirvana’s Nevermind from Led Zeppelin II, and these things tend to go in 22-year cycles.