Random Releases #6
Blue Weekend is the third album from Wolf Alice, a British band that I haven't heard of until now, with the album being a beautiful representation of a gloomy, gorgeous weekend when you're going through multiple emotions all at once. The album really plays with plenty of sounds, with most of them being magnificent and unbelievable, sounding unlike anything I've heard before, taking all type of sounds and crafting them in a way so that they all flow together smoothly. You feel like you're all alone, placed on an island, wanting to get back to people but struggling to as the tides are too rough so you just give up and lose hope.
On 'The Beach', Ellie wakes up on a beach, being awaken by the crashing of the tides, wondering when she's gonna meet the person she loves. The drums set the tone of the song, acting as the tides, gaining intensity as the song develops. The vocals from Ellie Rowsell sound distant and slightly frustrated, probably with the way she acted towards the person she loved as they seem to have fought recently, before she arrived at the beach of the island, realizing that they didn't have to fight and that they could just come back to each other. The instrumental is calm, supporting Ellie's delicate vocals. The outro of the song is powerful as Ellie presses a rock in her palm, finding peace with the decisions she made before, finally taking the time to relax for the the first time since she arrived at the island, even though she still doesn't think that she completely deserves to relax in the back of her mind.
On 'Delicious Things', Ellie looks up at the sky and the rest of her surroundings, with the island's nature being stunning as she falls in love with the vibes, but being cautious at the same time, wanting to give the island a chance. She hasn't felt like she hasn't belonged anywhere, being the biggest reason for why she wants to give the island a chance, meeting a man named Adam, who greets her with a drink at his garden. The instrumental is atmospheric, being amazing in all aspects as the drums' moody nature is magnificent, working well along with the wonderful, slightly dreamy instrumental. Adam asks her about her home, reminding her about the boy she loved, but she quickly flushes her thoughts and memories about/with him out of her mind as she chooses to focus on the fantastic island instead, where she feels alive. Ellie's vocals are whisper-like on the verses, showing how anxious she is, while unleashing all her tension on the chorus, sounding tremendous in the process. Ellie reminds herself to not get tricked by how perfect the album sees, getting a bad feeling about Adam (probably because she still misses the boy she left behind) and realizing that she doesn't actually belong here, even though it has been extremely fun so far for her as she starts to miss her mom along with her home.
At this point, 'Lipstick on the Glass', Ellie is slightly confused on what she wants to do, stay at the island or go back home. Ellie knows that staying on the island with Adam could be exciting but she doesn't want to do anything other than go back to the boy she realized she still loves, telling him that she'll take him back, even if she made it seem like she didn't miss him and fought with him while additionally having slept with Adam. The production is nice, with the instrumental sounding nostalgic and the counter melodies blending beautifully with the instrumental as the drums hit hard on the chorus, providing Ellie with an airy beat. Ellie can't resist the boy any longer, understanding that they were wrong for fighting each other as they're not enemies, they're still two people who love each other. Ellie's vocals sound like they're coming out of a ghost, being gorgeous and super light as they're especially excellent on the chorus, giving me chills. Ellie knows that the boy who she loved wasn't the problem, taking the blame for the fight, wishing that he had told her that he missed/loved her one last time before she left so that she wouldn't struggle so much to decide on whether she should come back.
We get a powerful banger with 'Smile', as Ellie is completely sure on what she wants to do, leaving behind her uncertainty, lifting her mood. She sings out loud that she isn't afraid even though it may seem like she was struggling to come to a decision on what she wanted to do, while admitting that she is sensitive and that she doesn't care about what people think about her, letting her emotions shine at all times. The instrumental is thundering and rough, allowing Ellie's stormy, angry attitude to come out, along with a pleasant pad and punchy drums boosting the effect of the song. Ellie doesn't like the way people dismiss her opinions and feelings, telling everyone that she won't allow them to get away with making her mad. The vocals from Ellie are cold and distant (like on 'The Beach') while they sound a bit beautiful on the bridge as she tells herself to smile in the warmth of the sun, ignoring everything that was bothering her.
I was extremely disappointed with 'Safe From Heartbreak' as I thought that the theme was wonderful but executed in such an average way. Ellie thinks that she'll be safe from heartbreak if she never falls in love, which is why she doesn't, but she feels like breaking this rule and trying love as she knows that it won't kill her. The production is pretty basic and boring, using a simple, pretty instrumental and not much else as Ellie's vocals are put on center stage on the track. Ellie didn't like how the boy she's going back to, left like it was nothing, like they both didn't have feelings for each other even though she knows that they both do love each other. The vocals from Ellie are extremely underwhelming as they sound slightly soothing but have no sign of emotion at all, being the most bland so far in the album while having tedious background vocals that do more damage than the amount they help Ellie. Ellie sends a message to the boy she loves as she's on her way back, her heart is not to be played with and that she's going to trust him one more time, even though he failed to take care of her last time and couldn't show her the love she wanted to see from him.
We reach the next stage of the album on 'How Can I Make It OK?', where she has arrived back at home after leaving the island and it seems like all is not okay like Ellie though it would be. Ellie feels like her life has been moving slow, wanting to move with urgency and do stuff she wants to like get back together with the boy she pushed away and fought with as she can't live life anxious and with fear all the time. She wants to fix their relationship, asking him on how can she make it all okay, telling him that she wants him to be happy and that nothing is as important as that and making everything okay between them. The vocals from Ellie are excellent, sounding soft and heavenly, being especially passionate. The production contains an amazing, shiny instrumental while the drums take the spotlight, with their unique nature, switching up throughout the song from groovy to thunderous, always creating a huge impact on the song. From the repetitive nature of the song, you can slowly understand that everything is not going to be okay for a while, with the echoing vocals near the end of the song emphasizing that, as all Ellie's attempts to go back to their old days are probably failing, frustrating her as she falls deeper and deeper into a dark hole, having just gotten rejected.
Like the last track mentioned, Ellie thought that her life has been moving too slow, with 'Play The Greatest Hits' being the track where she really tries to change that, literally, with the song being so much faster than the rest of the album, speeding through Ellie's life. as she tries to fill the hole of her heartbreak. The song is used as Ellie's way of escaping her emotions, her way of running away from the pain caused by her heartbreak, as the fast pace of the song is used to numb her feelings. Ellies seems to party away, ignoring her past and trying to move on, focusing on her future. The production is filled with energy as the drums and instrumental are on the same page, banging away throughout the song along with an excellent electric pad, which is my favorite part of the song, while vocals from Ellie are extremely irritating for the first time on the album and are actually ugly, but this might have been done on purpose because heartbreak is also ugly so they might've wanted to mimic that. Unsurprisingly, this is my least favorite track on the album as there are plenty of better ways of making music about heartbreak, but this has got to be near the bottom of the list with the annoying vocals. Ellie repeats that the song isn't loud enough, or in other words, it isn't powerful enough to fight against the more powerful pain caused by heartbreak.
Unlike the last song, they manage to create a magnificent song about moving on and healing from heartbreak, with 'Feeling Myself' being one of the best songs of 2021. The song is about how Ellie is feeling herself, mentally and physically, helping her to move on from the boy. I love the bold nature of the song, not being afraid to talk about female pleasure as they additionally do it in a fantastic manner, not making it too inappropriate or too subtle, getting the message across while making it gorgeous in the process, blowing me away. The production of the song is powerful, with the stunning synths being the perfect mixture between soft and rough while being backed up by some moody, magnificent drums and pretty pads as even moans are added to the beat to let listeners understand that they're not just talking about feeling yourself mentally, but physically too. The beat is heavenly, one of the best beats of the year which is why the song is also one of the best songs of the year. Ellie's vocals are extremely emotional as she lets out everything that has been bothering her, in a much better way than the loud yelling on 'Play The Greatest Hits'. Ellie talks about how the boy has been with many women and that doesn't mean that he's pleasing anyone, while also talking about how she's always been taught to give while guys are rarely taught that, being about love in general and more specifically sex too. The track really makes you feel like you're floating, while meanwhile Ellie has moved on, having learnt to love herself and not need the love from the boy.
'The Last Man On Earth' is an intriguing song lyrically, being a message to herself and the boy she loved. The song is about how people expect things to fix itself, maybe like how Ellie and the boy expected their relationship to be fixed without really doing much other than her asking the boy what she should do and the boy doing nothing other than waiting for something to change. The vocals from Ellie were wonderful, sounding super weary and even slightly wise, which is perfect for this moment as it's an important, intimate moment where she really wants to connect to the listeners, with the beautiful bridge specifically being a stand-out moment on the album. The production of the song starts off slow but builds up in an outstanding way, gaining intensity until plenty of pads come together along with the instrumental to create a gorgeous scene. Ellie knows the boy has been waiting for love but he isn't going to get any love if he just waits for it as he'll just end up as the last man on Earth, or in other words, the last man standing, the one without any love and the one who will always be alone. She sings out loud to let the light shine on him, which is to accept his mistakes and start to move on towards a positive path, instead of being arrogant and drowning in the dark. Ellie does know that the light will shine on the boy, but she also knows that it will be too late, as her love for him has already started fading.
'No Hard Feelings' may seem as just an 'interlude', but it really is much more than that. Ellie seems to be leaving her home, going back to the island as she thinks about her memories with the boy and how their relationship has gone. She says that she has no hard feelings against him for breaking her heart and that losing his love has been hard enough, not wanting to use more energy on the relationship just to hold a grudge. Ellie's vocals sound light and happy as thinking about the boy and how everything went seems to have made her feel nostalgic and nice, ignoring everything that went wrong with him and focusing on the happy moments. She has understood that she can't keep crying over the boy, realizing that has a long life to live and she can't be wasting a single moment over the past as she's got to live her future. The production reminds me of something on 'folklore' and 'evermore', with the instrumental sounding really raw and natural. Ellie wonders if their relationship could've actually worked, knowing that the end of something is the beginning of something new, being a bright, positive way to look at a sad, slow break-up.
Ellie has returned to the beach on 'The Beach II', being much more relaxed and calm compared to the last time she was on the beach as she's got no thoughts bugging her in the back of her mind. Ellie spreads an excellent message with the song, telling everyone that nothing is forever and that everything will come to an end at some point, using some spectacular imagery in the process with lines such as 'The tide comes in, as it must go out' and 'And the sun goes down, as it must come up'. The production starts off with a simple instrumental, with airy pads being layered above it, until Ellie starts to sing and the pads disappear, while the drums enter strongly a few seconds later, with the pads and cool counter melodies making frequent appearances throughout the song, as the beat has a strong lo-fi feel to it and sets the mood for a perfect summer song. The vocals from Ellie are heavenly, with the light nature of her vocals being lovely, being the factor that makes the song perfect. Ellie is having fun with her friends on the beach, laughing and letting loose as everything is okay and she has found her happily ever after.
If you haven't already figured out, the island is some place new, a place you're unfamiliar with, which is why you're usually you're lonely or 'blue' when you arrive. The island could also be used to represent quarantine and how we're all stuck on an island in some way, not being able to meet other people at the moment. We tend to overthink a lot during this time, which plays a huge role in the album's story if you think about it as it's the reason Ellie chose to go back to the boy, leading to her heartbreak, causing all the destruction.
Wolf Alice, a band from North London who I've never heard of before this album, have managed to create an album that could develop to become a masterpiece, as all members who've worked on the project (Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie, and Theo Ellis) have done their job to create an album that takes you on a emotional experience, exploring the ups and downs of a relationship and how people can disappoint us in ways we normally wouldn't expect. They chose to not stay in a bubble production-wise and lyrically, thinking out of the box to come up with sounds that you wouldn't expect from a band like Wolf Alice such as the lo-fi weekend beats or the high use of pads to create a heavenly atmosphere while additionally telling the story of heartbreak in a complex way, a way you wouldn't normally expect as the themes are hidden well, needing to be able to comprehend and digest the album along with digging deep enough to find them. Blue Weekend is definitely a weekend album, with the soothing nature of the songs being perfect to get you through a tough weekend as everything about the album is out of the blue.
Best Tracks: Lipstick On The Glass, How Can I Make It OK?, The Beach II, Feeling Myself, Smile, The Last Man On Earth
Worst Tracks: Play The Greatest Hits, Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love), The Beach