For a band that reached number 2 with their last album ‘Visions of a Life’ which debuted in 2017 and saw them play countless shows including the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, they had a lot of expectation to live up to with the release of their third album ‘Blue Weekend.’ Their new release has certainly done that as it is full of perfect pieces that truly cement Wolf Alice’s talent within the music industry. Each record on the album stands within its own ingenuity, each a piece of art in its own right. The band’s sound fluctuates throughout ‘Blue Weekend’, demonstrating the versatility that the four musicians have. The album which began to be constructed by the band mates after they came together, away from the hectic tours and stages, explores a variety of ways of storytelling with a mature sound along with it.
This mature sound, coupled to work alongside the storytelling of the band is shown expertly in their debut single from the album ‘Last Man on Earth’. The title in itself depicts a sense of loneliness, which is illuminated within the soft tonality of the song; it gives the listener a sense of floating through empty space, as if you are looking down at the ‘Last Man on Earth.’ It is incredibly powerful how Wolf Alice are able to capture a visual by utilising the melody to support the story that is being told. This is something not many artists often do.
There are elements of other artist’s sounds in ‘Blue Weekend’ and these differ quite dramatically. There are numerous songs on the album which have a slow and relaxed tone to them. The second song on the album, ‘Delicious Things’ has a similar melody to that of Lana Del Rey. It has a laid-back, ethereal feel, creating an almost spiritual, eerie picture. This is reiterated in the following track ‘Lipstick on the Glass’ which makes you feel as if you are being transported to another world. This is something that Wolf Alice have captured so strongly within their new album, as each track takes the listener somewhere, whether that be drifting through the twinkling stars of space, or feeling the rage within, which is displayed in the song ‘Smile.’ The clever use of juxtaposing the title ‘Smile’ with the feeling exhibited in the song creates almost a sarcastic tone to feeling angry and enraged which is shown in lyrics such as ‘Don’t call me mad/There’s a difference I’m angry.’ It establishes why they chose to name the song ‘Smile’ as it is almost a comment on society on how people expect you to be happy and ‘smile’ when you don’t want to and this is further supported in the line ‘Did you think I was a puppet on strings?/ Wind her up and this honeybee stings.’ This line is particularly poignant as the oxymoron of ‘honeybee’ and ‘stings’ shows the listener how people don’t always have to be happy and sweet and this narrative is very similar to another portrayed by the indie rock band Pale Waves. In one of their songs ‘You don’t Know Me’ they expressed a similar perception on how people, particularly women, are often thought to need to be constantly content and polite, abiding by society’s beliefs on how they should be and within the also female-led band that Wolf Alice is, they encapsulate the anger of the idea that women are seen as ‘puppets on strings’ by some people in today’s era. As the message that they are displaying is such a powerful and poignant one their sound moves away from the calm and breezy tones similar to that of Lana Del Rey and more that of ‘People’ by The 1975. The way lead singer Ellie Rowsell manipulates her lyricism by the concentration in the way she pronounces each word reinforces the passion that she along, with her band, have for what they are trying to explain within the song. This is something Rowsell intelligently does again in ‘How Can I Make It Ok?’ as she repeats this line throughout the chorus with a stunted flow, indicating the confusion and uncertainty of what to do that would enable her to answer the question.
Though when it comes to knowing how to create a phenomenal follow-up album, Wolf Alice definitely know the answer to this question. ‘Blue Weekend’ is the band’s strongest piece to date which is why so many critics see it as such a sensational embodiment of work the artists have been able to create during the pandemic, which has clearly had no negative affect on their creative abilities. The added challenge of producing an album through such uncertain times seems to have only enlightened their talent as a foursome enabled them to attain their first number one album.
‘Blue Weekend’ is out now.
Lipstick on The Glass
Safe from Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)
How Can I Make It OK?
Play the Greatest Hits
The Last Man on Earth
No Hard Feelings
The Beach II