Label: Dirty Hit
Released: 4th June 2021
Are Wolf Alice the best band on the planet? There’s a question for you, Dear Reader. Not the most feverously obsessed over by screaming stans. Not the shiniest and most playlist-ready. Not the easiest to jump on board with, thanks to a hooky 3-minute on-trend bop. The best.
If we’re honest, the answer is almost unquestionably yes.
By our own admission, we’re not shy of a bit of hyperbole ‘round these parts’, but this isn’t just some exciting sounding assertion yelled loud to create a bit of a spark. Three albums in, it’s safe to call it. Few, if any, even come close.
‘Blue Weekend’ is a triumph. In the context of the world around it, though, it feels even more than that. It’s special. After a year where we’ve yearned for human connection – shut away and unable to live inverted-commas-normal-lives – the summer of 2021 is already cast in stone as some great awakening. Maybe it’s serendipity, perhaps it’s design, but in landing right at the point we need them most the return of Wolf Alice seems almost pre-destined. Like nature really is healing.
A winding, narrative flow – ‘Blue Weekend’ is Ellie Rowsell’s lyrical flair at the top of her championship-winning game. Every weapon in the Wolf Alice arsenal is on full display. From the thawing, crystalline shimmer of opener ‘The Beach’ to the teeth bared, visceral gut-punch of ‘Play the Greatest Hits’, they remain the only band who can so effectively mix it on every sonic level. Recent single ‘Smile’ leaves those riff-ready, would be festival headliners in a bloody pile, harnessing that almost tangible groove the four-piece have always been able to lock into at will. An evolution on the screaming, feral cry of ‘Giant Peach’, it’s a marker of just how far they’ve come.
There are new or more pronounced strings to Wolf Alice’s considerable bow, too. Album centrepiece ‘How Can I Make It OK’ casts Ellie’s showstopping vocal through a brilliant, twisting pop kaleidoscope, reflecting the track back upon itself until it reaches a pristine crescendo. At this point, Rowsell’s voice is almost an instrument in itself. From warm, embracing atmospherics to diamond-sharp cuts, it’s a world-building, organic force that elevates them above their more sterile peers. Much will be made of the ‘is it getting hot in here, or is it just us?’ not-exactly-undertones of ‘Feeling Myself’, but that confessional, no-holds-barred tone that first started to show green shoots on ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ seems even more fully embraced on ‘Blue Weekend’. From the avoidance tactics of folky plucker ‘Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)’ to the tactile, almost accepted regret of ‘No Hard Feelings’, the deeply personal is laid bare in a cathartic act of self-relief.
The true beauty of Wolf Alice, though, comes in what they represent. This isn’t a band that exists purely to ‘get big’. There’s no stench of cynicism from their corner. They’re the morning light that thaws the frozen pond, the ones to stand up and be counted when others shy away. That tangible outpouring of relief and emotion that accompanied ‘Blue Weekend’’s first taster ‘Last Man On Earth’ said more than words ever could. Write it large; Wolf Alice’s imperial phase has arrived.