Recommended Tracks: “Smile,” “Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love),” “How Can I Make It Ok?”
Artists You May Like: Pale Waves, girl in red, Fickle Friends
Expectations were high for indie rock band Wolf Alice after the successful release of their sophomore album, Visions of a Life, in 2017. While it was no secret that the band was a force to be reckoned with, as their debut album scored them a Grammy nom, success on the Billboard charts, and sold out gigs around the world, Visions of a Life proved that Wolf Alice was the real deal after it earned the coveted Mercury Prize in 2018. Receiving such an honor is more than gratifying, of course, but it also raises the bar for that next album; will it go over just as well?
The anticipation for album three, Blue Weekend, began to build over the course of 2019, as Wolf Alice were on track to record the project. But then, as we all know by now, the pandemic happened. A wrench was thrown into their plans, but the band persevered and made it to the other side. It might have taken a little longer to be released, but Blue Weekend was well worth the wait.
The tracks on Blue Weekend bring us back to a time before Covid-19, when most of our drama centered on intimate relationships, fallouts with friends, and the new experiences that come with being a young adult in the 21st century. Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell takes us into new territory with her lyrics, as they embrace her views on love and womanhood more than they have in the past. In the biting “Smile,” she sings about the conflict she feels as a woman in the music industry and in general, going back and forth between what others think of her and how she views herself. There is also the alluring “Feeling Myself,” where Ellie taps into how liberating it is to play by her own rules.
As usual, Wolf Alice brilliantly mix the sweet with the bitter, giving us music that makes us want to cry one moment and smash some glass the next. We have the folksy “Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love),” which uses uplifting acoustic guitar melodies and angelic harmonies to create a safe retreat from the sting of heartbreak. In contrast, “Play the Greatest Hits” contains fast energy and a feisty attitude that places you back in the time of late 70s/early 80s punk music. Despite the polarizing sounds that are at play, though, the tracks on Blue Weekend have that Wolf Alice personality that brings them together and makes for a cohesive listen.
Even with the vivid lyrics and the compelling music on the album, Ellie’s vocals have a way of stealing the show. She knows how to sing, but she also knows how to use her voice, boldly switching up her style when necessary. On the tender “How Can I Make It Ok?” and “Lipstick on the Glass,” for instance, Ellie gives us light, open verses, as well as strong, full choruses. The way her voice can emote with such control is enchanting, and adds so much depth to the stories we hear.
When the news of Blue Weekend was first announced, the band revealed that the album name plays on the drama that can come from the weekend; weekends can be calm, as the color “blue” tends to be, but also chaotic. As you listen to the album, you feel as if this name is the perfect moniker for such a project, in the way that it covers both extremities. It might take a few listens to fully grasp the new scenes that Wolf Alice have painted on Blue Weekend, but you will be able to find yourself in them soon enough, making the album another win for the foursome.
You can listen to Blue Weekend on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.
Catch Wolf Alice on tour here.