There’s a palpable sense of artistic growth and maturity on ‘Blue Weekend’, the feeling you get watching a band finally finding themselves after years of struggling with their own identity. Wolf Alice has, for me at the very least, always lacked something to truly maximize their potential. As great as the highs on ‘My Love Is Cool’ and ‘Visions Of A Life’ are, Wolf Alice seemed to lack a clear sense of their identity. Now, 4 years detached from their previous studio outing, ‘Blue Weekend’ shows the band finally mastering their formula and gaining a heightened sense of awareness towards who they are as a band. Gorgeous, diligent, nocturnal, fluent, stylistically unhinged, and fully realized, ‘Blue Weekend’ is Wolf Alice at their peak.
‘Blue Weekend’ knows the exact moment to amp up the energy and when to settle into sophisticated balladry. From the spellbinding simplicity of ‘The Last Man on Earth’ to the grungy, lawless energy of ‘Smile’, the album pulls no punches when it comes to tackling different styles. Chamber and dream pop, indie folk, alternative rock, grunge, the indie rock that Wolf Alice is known for; making an album so grandiose and aesthetically diverse obviously brings up the possibility of the record losing its footing at some point throughout its duration with contrasts too sharp to have the album remain cohesive, yet, against all odds, the sum is just as good as it’s parts. Truly a tapestry of influences all thrown into one project, and done wonderfully might I add. The band also shows how something so soft and quiet can speak volumes louder than songs as, for a lack of a better term, loud as many of Wolf Alice’s earlier and more rock-oriented offerings do.
The track ‘The Last Man on Earth’, perhaps the centerpiece of this album, is the perfect example of this. A solemn reversed piano ballad where Ellie Roswell’s vocals, more hushed than usual, take center stage. It all builds up to a lofty crescendo that will no doubt leave you dazed, though not necessarily in the way prior Wolf Alice songs would. It will leave you bewildered by its graceful and alluring charm. Enchanting, seducing, ethereal, melancholia and beauty distilled- no matter how many bullshit descriptors I give, none of them will be able to convey as much as ‘The Last Man on Earth’ does with so little. To say the tracks that found an appropriate balance between female-fronted dream pop and hard-hitting alt-rock is gone would be misleading, for those seeking out that stuff, tracks such as ‘Smile’ and ‘Play The Greatest Hits’ should quench your thirst, but ‘Blue Weekend’ as a whole is a step away from Wolf Alice’s pre-established sound, a step towards beauty, and, in my opinion, a step in the right direction.
On a side note, I cannot imagine a better cover art. Does a phenomenal job at depicting the soundscapes of the album without you needing to hear the music first.
Favorite Tracks: The Beach, Smile, Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love), How Can I Make It OK?, Feeling Myself, The Last Man On Earth, The Beach II
Worst Track: Play the Greatest Hits