Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

Wolf Alice – No Hard Feelings

Indeed, we have few!


Vikram Joseph: Far more understated than either of the first two singles from Blue Weekend, “No Hard Feelings” is numb, bruised but tinged with the faintest glimmer of redemption. The muted guitar arpeggios provide a dull background hum like a ceiling fan on a warm night, while Ellie Rowsell tells an ex that it doesn’t hurt any more, repeating it like a mantra, struggling to convince even herself. It’s telling that despite her protestations, the line that sticks with me is “crying in the bathtub to ‘Love Is A Losing Game'” – which, I guess, is the sort of thing you’ll be able to laugh about one day, but just not quite yet.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Faint, feathery guitar loops undulate as Ellie Rowsell whispers the denouement of a relationship that was held together by gossamer strings. “No hard feelings, honey/And we both will take the win,” she concludes: triumphant in message, but devastated in demeanor. 

Claire Biddles: Considering how well Wolf Alice have done complex, delicate heartbreak in the past, the broad strokes of “No Hard Feelings” are disheartening. It takes a lot to make a guitar band interesting in 2021, but Wolf Alice’s lyrical specificity and unfashionable proggy tendencies made them stand out. Here nothing twists the formula — just a guitar track that’s pretty I guess, a cliched string/knot metaphor, and the now-tropey namedrop of a relatively contemporary pop song. Apparently this was developed from the introduction of a heavier song, and I WISH I could hear the original. As with their Dirty Hit labelmates The 1975, let’s hope this descent into bland platitudes is temporary.

Ian Mathers: There are enough songs that sound basically like this that you really need to find some way to stand out, and even though it’s not exactly a new trick, that gently pulsing guitar line running throughout pretty much does it, especially with the brief choral synth bit in the middle.

Katherine St Asaph: I’m probably overrating this track that really should build more than it does (and, after Wolf Alice’s last single, like I expected it to) because it’s the first time I can remember that a recent pop song has reminded me of Carol Keogh. The hushed synth-choral bridge is an unexpected oasis.

Alfred Soto: Confessional sparsity is increasingly Not My Thing, but Ellie Rowsell pins down the painterly details with a pitch and timbre which understands where to stress and when to glide. It’s not a second longer than necessary, too.

John S. Quinn-Puerta: A well-sung breakup song driven entirely by bass guitar is a thing impossible for me not to love.

Nortey Dowuona: Ellie Rowsell’s soft pastel voice climbs the spiralling bass and swinging guitar backed by tart cries, calling out to you. It feels like a companion to “Don’t Delete the Kisses”: Ellie is now ending that hopeful relationship in a kind way.

Samson Savill de Jong: If Olivia Rodrigo perfected the ridiculous adolescent response to being dumped, “No Hard Feelings” provides a counter-balance, a reminder that holding on to anger and spite toward someone who would’ve been more unhappy staying with you is unhealthy for you both. There’s room in this world for each, but I can’t deny that the maturity in Wolf Alice’s lyrics instantly make me kinder toward this song. It doesn’t do a lot musically, stalling for a little while, finding the “choir” button on its Casio keyboard, then abruptly ending. More work could’ve been done to match the music to the complex emotions the lyrics express. But Ellie Rowsell’s voice makes up the difference, and the core of the song is strong enough to carry me through.

Dede Akolo: Wolf Alice are dear to my heart, as their last album, Visions of a Life, riddled my Summer ’18. Ellie Rowsell’s voice is so haunting, which always comes off best in the band’s ballads. Nothing fancy. A simple, quiet plea. 

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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One Response to “Wolf Alice – No Hard Feelings”

  1. did NOT expect to be the outlier here!

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