Since 2015, Wolf Alice have established themselves as one of the most exciting and promising talents in the UK indie scene. After the success of their debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’ and their Mercury Prize-winning sophomore effort ‘Visions Of A Life’, it is unsurprising that their long-awaited third album ‘Blue Weekend’ was one of the most anticipated records of 2021 so far. Gemma Cockrell discusses whether it met her high expectations.
Wolf Alice’s sound has always been somewhat otherworldly, with Ellie Rowsell’s vocals possessing a spiritual, haunting and ghostly essence. This can be heard on album opener The Beach, where whispers of “Let me off / Let me in” blend into the dense instrumental, before Rowsell’s voice soars to break through the layers and close the song in a dramatic and beautiful crescendo of sound.
The atmospheric nature continues in the following track Delicious Things, which opens with soothing vocalisations backed by unique reggae bass. Spiritual influence shines through in the lyrics, as Rowsell references the Garden of Eden and its resident Adam, whilst discussing her feelings of alienation and estrangement within the luxurious and infamous LA party lifestyle.
Religion also appears elsewhere on the album, on lead single The Last Man On Earth, which was released back in February. Rowsell references Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle as she questions “Do you wait for your dancing lessons to be sent from God?”, criticising the arrogance of people who passively wait for something good to happen to them as if they are owed enlightenment and compensation from a deity.
Incorporating punk rock and grunge influences to result in the album’s most punchy, unapologetic and aggressive moments
Three albums into their career, Wolf Alice are unafraid to experiment. They call back to 2017’s Yuk Foo as they explore heavier territory on Smile and Play The Greatest Hits, incorporating punk rock and grunge influences to result in the album’s most punchy, unapologetic and aggressive moments. The only demise of the former is that the chorus’ lyrics would have benefited from holding a bit more purpose and meaning.
Positioned between these two energetic moments, the band experiment with folk on the track Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love). Rowsell bitterly endorses masking your vulnerability from others and building barriers in order to protect yourself. This is often the perspective of someone who has just been through heartache, and Lipstick on the Glass confirms this theory, as Rowsell speaks of being betrayed by an unfaithful lover.
This theme is developed further on Feeling Myself, but from a newfound outlook. It seems that Rowsell has experienced a period of personal growth, as she announces her sexual and emotional satisfaction with solitude, in a bold declaration of self-love.
It seems that the album was written to document the progression of emotions that occurs post-breakup, and this narrative continues on No Hard Feelings. The song is a gentle acoustic guitar ballad where Rowsell professes “No hard feelings, honey / There’ll be no bad blood” to a previous lover. It is a moment of reflection, as she lets go of any bitterness that remains, and finds peace in acceptance of the past.
The Beach II continues to affirm Rowsell’s contentment. It is an appreciation and celebration of the close bonds that she has with the women in her life, who she refers to as “my girls on the beach”. By referencing the opening track, the album comes full circle. We see Rowsell progress from a state of emotional turbulence to serenity and composure within eleven songs, resulting in a satisfying and rewarding end to the album.
Featured image courtesy of Ian Cheek Press, granted to Impact for use. No changes made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @wolfaliceband via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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