Monday, August 14th, 2017

Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete the Kisses

Everyone, PLEASE back up your kisses to the cloud…


Eleanor Graham: It isn’t the shimmering trundle or blunt syllables of “What. If. It’s. Not. Meant. For me — love?” that makes this song exhilarating. It’s those spoken-word verses, West End Girls-descended, with not dissimilar atmospherics and similarly galvanising; it’s the intimacy of Rowsell’s raw-edged-silk whisper; it’s the zeitgeisty modern love universality that tricks you into thinking it’s literally inside your head. More talking and specificity and anxiety in pop please, but with hooks that are maximalist and like, crash-y, enough to do the writing justice and offer appropriate catharsis.

Ryo Miyauchi: Wolf Alice turns in a Glass Candy tune with Ellie Rowsell displaying obsessive romance from a distance through a detached narration like Ida No’s. But what stamps “Don’t Delete the Kisses” as a proper Wolf Alice track is the screamed-out chorus: love, what if it’s not meant for me? It’s a question that slaps a daydreaming Rowsell back to reality through not only its volume but also its self-doubt, nauseating in its density.

Alfred Soto: The staccato chorus, spoken-word choruses, production chill — a fetching combination, and a different shade of lust after last month’s “Yuk Foo.”

Hannah Jocelyn: The opposite of “Yuk Foo,” but shouty and bratty in a different way. Where “Yuk Foo” was punky and straightforward, “Don’t Delete The Kisses” is more a stream-of-consciousness-Notes-app narrative than anything else. Even from a quote in an interview, even when she’s buried under reverb, it’s easy to tell that Ellie Rowsell and the rest of Wolf Alice retain the same amount of control in all styles, and they earn the song’s adorable happy ending.

Micha Cavaseno: Listening to the exact trajectory of internal monologue fantasies that never actually escape the lips rarely sound so suitably soundtracked, but thankfully the blend of wistful romance and aimless swoons are a suitable match. It’s frustratingly over-familiar as a record, with Wolf Alice occupying a feeling of Strawberry Switchblade as third tier obscure synthpop YouTube channel filler. Yet as a mood it’s impeccable and that cushiony safety works wonders to remind you that no matter how disorienting it is, really its not so bad.

Jonathan Bradley: I hope this achieves classic status at the indie disco so when it comes on I can fold my arms and pout that it’s no “Maps” “Dudley.” (Who am I kidding, I’m 34 years old, I’m never going to the indie disco.)

Nortey Dowuona: As Rowsell softly murmurs her slowly growing love for someone, she feels airy and yet grounded in the soft bed of synthesizers and drums, slowly becoming less cynical and more willing to trust in what she feels, as the synthesizers swell and pulse while the drums sharply crackle. It all feels like that same shedding of cynicism for hope.

Alex Clifton: A sweet love song that feels like a dream; I prefer this over “Yuk Foo” that came out a few weeks ago. It’s a bit too cloudy for me, though. Half the time I can’t tell what Ellie Rowsell is singing (although she’s clearer in the spoken-word sections). The melody’s a bit one-note and boring for my tastes. It’s pretty, but I also feel like this could’ve been performed by anyone who’s had backing music on Portlandia.

Tim de Reuse: The spoken-word bit doesn’t rhythmically work; there are lines that either cram in too many syllables or require accents on unfortunately-placed words, and it veers between syncing up perfectly to the song’s meter in a sappy nursery-rhyme kind of way and drifting away from it. But the tone here is not just conversational, it’s internal: the kind of brutal casualness that you can only really get from nagging voices in your own head. The tune leans into the awkward, fumbling monologue unapologetically, producing something that’s human and flawed a level beyond most things we call “human and flawed”; it’s painful to relate to, because these are the kinds of thoughts you try to convince yourself to be embarrassed about even when you know for a fact that no one’s as composed and cool as they present themselves. It is not about a whirlwind, feel-good romance, but it is about the paranoid self-doubt of wishing for a whirlwind, feel-good romance. The fact that a song about the latter turns out to be more engaging than most songs about the former is just fascinating.

Claire Biddles: I’ve already listened to it hundreds of times but I’ve only just realised that there’s hardly anything to “Don’t Delete The Kisses.” There’s no proper chorus, only snatches of melody; nothing changes, it just goes round and round and repeats forever until I have to unplug my earphones or go to a meeting or fall asleep. But isn’t that how obsession lives in the everyday? When something about a song or a person flies under the radar for thousands of people but becomes the only thing you can think about, hiding inside of you undetected? The last Wolf Alice single “Yuk Foo” was a quick-hit fancy dress costume of someone I wish I was, but “Don’t Delete The Kisses” is exactly who I am. I don’t care what anyone else thinks of it. I know this is bad critical practice, and maybe if I was a better writer I would have the ability to distance myself from the song, or the self-restraint to write this on Tumblr instead, but I can’t: I can feel every single word in my bones like they’re mine. I liked the first Wolf Alice album fine but I never felt it like this, the stakes didn’t feel this high: Like a lot of debut guitar band albums, it was about teenage-and-a-bit boredom, about getting out — looking forward with no space for reflection. Three years in your twenties can feel like decades. Now every line is hiding thousands of familiar words of subtext; endless longing and hoping. This new maturity is all in Ellie Rowsell’s perfect delivery: The cadence of that first half-spoken line “I’d like to get to know you” belies a lifetime of second guessing; a lifetime of being dictated by simultaneous romantic obsession and constant crushing disappointment. But it’s also a lifelong way of being that can only be taken stock of when it’s almost certainly too late. And I think that’s why it’s so special, because it came at the right time. I’m a few days shy of 30 and in love with someone who I’m never going to tell again and — like Ellie, like the song — I’m wondering if this is it, if I’ve given up on romantic love, if it’s not for me. I’m coming to terms with being the kind of person whose life’s great love story is unrequited and from afar — a handful of kisses, years apart, replayed over and over. Obsessing to the soundtrack of a specific song on infinite repeat through headphones that nobody else can hear. The kind of person who puts her life into a song instead of properly living it. The kind of person who won’t get to know you at all, because she can’t, because she’s too scared.

Reader average: [6.66] (3 votes)

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