Today’s Song: “Don’t Delete the Kisses” is Wolf Alice’s Bubbly, Synth-Filled Paradise

Wolf Alice © Laura Allard Fleischl
Wolf Alice © Laura Allard Fleischl

The process of falling in love is confusing. On the one hand, you’re filled with happiness and excitement, the thrill of what might be permeating your daily thoughts. On the other hand, this same thrill brings fear, vulnerability, and lack of control along with it. It is incredibly hard to put these feelings into words, mostly because you’re so immersed in them and they are so overwhelming.

“Don’t Delete the Kisses” – Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice’s new single, “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” is probably the most accurate description of what falling in love feels like. It is nuanced and exciting, bold but shy, autobiographical and universal, and shows a new side to the band both lyrically and instrumentally. If compared to the band’s other recent single, “Yuk Foo,” where lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s frustration is thrown at you and backed by a punk-leaning, guitar-led track, they are complete opposites. In “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” Wolf Alice slowly untangles the knots created in one’s mind when falling in love, with Rowsell telling her own story and opening her heart to you while at the same time enlisting you to root for her and subtly encouraging you to act upon your feelings in your own life.

I see the signs of a lifetime, you ’til I die
And I’m swiftly out, I wish goodbye
What if it’s not meant for me?
What if it’s not meant for me?

Catchy synths and a steady beat introduce us to the world through Rowsell’s rose-coloured lenses. She starts the song softly singing about being in love with someone, knowing they’re the one for you, but being afraid of the feeling and so not investing in it. Her voice is layered and full of naivety. In a moment of frustration, she tries to convince herself not to fall for this person by asking “What if it’s not meant for me?,” her voice turning slightly more in-your-face but still innocent enough to show the listener the question comes from a vulnerable place. She’s scared, but this is just the beginning of her story.

I’d like to get to know you
I’d like to take you out
We’d go to the Hail Mary
And afterwards make out
Instead I’m typing you a message
That I know I’ll never send
Rewriting old excuses
Delete the kisses at the end
When I see you, the whole world reduces
To just that room
And then I remember and I’m shy
That gossip’s eye will look too soon
And then I’m trapped, overthinking
And yeah, probably self-doubt
You tell me to get over it
And to take you out
But I can’t, I’m too scared
And there’s the night-bus, I have to go
And the doors are closing and you were waving
And I like you, and I’ll never let it show
And you won’t wait and maybe I won’t mind
I work better on my own
And now I’m, well, a bit drunk
And I ask myself
Don't Delete the Kisses - Wolf Alice
Don’t Delete the Kisses – Wolf Alice

Now, Rowsell speaks more than she sings, addressing the listener as if he or she is the object of her affection. In lyrics like “I’m typing you a message/ That I know I’ll never send” and “Then I’m trapped, overthinking/ And yeah, probably self-doubt” she conveys the feelings of confusion and fear when you’re first falling in love with someone in a way that is poignant, raw, and not cliché. She’s scared of love, scared of rejection, scared of what people will think, “delet[ing] the kisses at the end” to veil her feelings, but hyperaware of the fact that she’s completely falling for this person.

Tension escalates towards the end of the verse where Rowsell paints the scene of her getting on the bus and leaving her loved one behind – the desperation, feeling of time being robbed from them, a flurry of emotions, all in a few seconds. The story is so well told, the images created so accurately in the listener’s head, that by the end of the first verse you find yourself completely absorbed in Rowsell’s love story and are rooting for her. And this isn’t only testament to how genuine her lyrics are, it also stems from the universality of her feelings – her skills as a lyricist are such that she manages to transform her own story (sprinkled with anecdotal information like the Hail Mary pub, which she admitted she changed the name of for the song, and the night bus she catches) into everyone else’s.

A few days pass since I last saw you
And you have taken over my mind
I’m re-telling jokes you made that made me laugh
Pretending that they’re mine
I wanna tell the whole world about you
I think that that’s a sign
I’m losing self control and it’s you
It really is, one thousand times
I look at your picture and I smile
How awful’s that? I’m like a teenage girl
I might as well write all over my notebook
That you ‘rock my world!’
You do, you really do
You’ve turned me upside down
And that’s okay, I’ll let it happen
‘Cause I like having you around
I’m a love-trick, a romantic cliche
And they really are all true
And we catch eyes in a stupid party
I know exactly what to do
I’ll take your hand, and we will leave
A French exit for me and you
You know I’m home, a little bit drunk
Some things don’t change
And I know now

On the second verse, things turn slightly more positive – we go from Rowsell fearing love to realizing she is in love, being happy about it, and acting upon her feelings. What’s so special about “Don’t Delete the Kisses” is how beautifully Rowsell manages to convey the simplest feelings that are the hardest to put into words, she outlines the thought process of someone who’s falling in love perfectly in lines like “I wanna tell the whole world about you/I think that that’s a sign” and “You’ve turned me upside down/And that’s okay, I’ll let it happen/ ‘Cause I like having you around”. She wins you over in the little details, like “I look at your picture and I smile”, “I’m losing self control and it’s you”, and this is where her story becomes your own again. By the end of the verse, the listener is so sucked into her narrative that her acting upon her feelings becomes a reason for celebration and probably an encouragement for the listener to act upon his or her feelings in real life.

Me and you were meant to be
In love
Me and you were meant to be
In love
Me and you
I see the signs of a lifetime, you ’til I die

The chorus changes from “What if it’s not meant for me?/ Love” to “Me and you were meant to be/ In love” and you can hear the pure elation in Rowsell’s voice. Her voice is layered again and the happiness is so overwhelming it’s like a crowd cheering her on and celebrating her new relationship. She ends the song with the same line that started it, but this time instead of her being “swiftly out”, she lets the thought of the relationship linger and hints at it lasting forever, finishing the first chapter of their story and leaving the rest of it open to possibility, for the listener to fill in the gaps – or for her to fill them in on Wolf Alice’s sophomore record, Visions of a Life, which will be released on September 29th.

:: Pre-order Visions of a Life here ::

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Visions of a Life - Wolf Alice

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photo © Laura Allard Fleischl

:: Wolf Alice :: 2017 Summer Tour ::

07/07 – Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
07/08 – The Foundry at The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PA
07/09 – Great Scott – Allston, MA
07/11 – Rough Trade – Brooklyn, NY
07/13 – Club AE – Pittsburgh, PA
07/15 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
07/16 – Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
07/18 – Globe Hall – Denver, CO
07/21 – Sunset Tavern – Seattle, WA
07/22 – Star Theater – Portland, OR
07/24 – Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA
07/26 – The Echo – Los Angeles, CA
tix & more info here
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