When recording artist Remi Wolf came out with her second EP, “I’m Allergic to Dogs!,” no one knew what to make of her. Somehow, in a year fraught with disaster-induced anxiety, musical stagnation and collective heartache, Remi Wolf released an EP characterized by effervescence, whimsy and most importantly, unadulterated fun. As it turns out, it was the right move — just two years after stepping onto the musical scene, Wolf has amassed an impressive following of fans, and she’s done it all with the kind of earnestness and integrity that makes listening to her music easy, and falling in love with it even easier.
Born in Palo Alto, California, Wolf gained her musical chops while studying music at USC. Despite her new-age, casual vibe, her composition and lyricism speak to a high level of technical skill, elevating Wolf’s sound above others in the experimental pop category.
When Island Records dropped her second EP in 2020, she may not have had the biggest following, but she did have some experience under her belt. After an impressive stint on “American Idol” at age 17 (and a somewhat random career as an Olympic skier), Wolf’s high-stakes pivot into working on experimental pop anthems has definitely paid off.
“I’m Allergic to Dogs!” is described by Remi Wolf as a collection of “ADHD hyper anthems,” and all five tracks certainly fit that description. Songs like “Down the Line,” “Woo!” and “Photo ID” feature all the elements that make a track bouncy, fun and utterly delightful. Wolf’s naturally soulful voice pitches higher and higher as each track builds in intensity, and she doesn’t let up, each song demonstrating a new kind of excitement.
The lyrics are carefree, breezy and impossibly fun, inviting each listener to get up and dance at their earliest convenience. Most skillfully, Wolf brings the energy and the funk without ever compromising her distinct sound, masterful composition and clean production — it’s a style that’s carefree, but never cacophonous, distinguishing her from her rougher, more violently animated counterparts like Grimes, 100 gecs and Charli XCX.
The EP has been closely followed by a handful of great remixes, and an even better single in “Monte Carlo,” which promises more great work from Remi Wolf in the future. With it, Wolf has clearly landed in a tree of genres and hit every branch on the way down. She credits a laundry list of influences for helping develop her unique sound and style in the industry, everyone from John Mayer to Chaka Kahn, reggae to ‘90s dance hits. These influences have coalesced into something greater than the sum of their parts, creating the kind of music that inspires joy whether alone in your bedroom or side-by-side with loved ones at a barbecue.
Her music’s adaptability has been its greatest strength. In the midst of a global pandemic and numerous other unprecedented occurrences, Wolf’s music injects fanciful excitement into the hearts of listeners everywhere. It makes you feel immune to sadness, even if only for a moment.
This ability to impart joy is Wolf’s greatest musical gift. From the production, to the lyrics and vocals, Wolf’s infectious youth and lack of self-consciousness invite audiences to shed their sadness and not take themselves too seriously. Her music seems to beckon: Get up, move your body and find some beauty in this moment, as dark as these times may be.
Wolf’s whole persona as an artist plays in perfect contrast to the rather gloomy collective experiences of the past few months. Her look is as eclectic as her art, bringing in elements that feel playful without being forced. She is a remarkably earnest performer. In a time when so many artists — especially younger artists attempting to break into the industry — come off as über-professional, polished and somewhat inauthentic, Wolf has a clear sense of self that never involves taking herself too seriously. She knows what makes her vibe “work”: a kooky sound, chaotic energy and a whole lot of spirit.
While this year has brought many surprises, Wolf’s rise to fame isn’t one of them. With the honed-in production skills to match her too-cool-for-school vibe, Wolf describes her ethos the best when she says, “I don’t make music seriously. Just intensely.” The pop world should make way for this intensity — Remi Wolf has come to town, and if this past year is any indication, she’s here to stay.