Glowing
Hannah Browne
11:56 3rd June 2021

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With their debut album, My Love Is Cool, Wolf Alice captured lightning in a bottle. Echoing the zeitgeist of the glitter-covered mid-2010s indie scene while having the gravitas to impress industry critics alike, they’ve always felt like outsiders...but only just. Now, Wolf Alice re-emerge for their third album – a glowing record that sees guitarist-vocalist Ellie Rowsell owning her identity with no second-guessing of the group’s potential.

Blending opulent piano ballads, breakneck alt-rock and elegant choral arrangements, Blue Weekend retains the sonic unpredictability that makes their catalogue so breathtaking, except now the stakes feel incredibly high. Whether occupying her thoughts between the unhinged verses of ‘Smile’ or crooning in her lower register on ‘The Last Man On Earth’, Rowsell personalises Blue Weekend to portray strength and solace in vulnerability. 

Having worked with Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons producer Markus Dravs, Wolf Alice craft a sound that feels like an easy listen at first but later reveals itself as having an inner emotional turmoil. Palpable on Blue Weekend’s second and standout track ‘Delicious Things’. Ellie reflects on life in L.A. against a backdrop of expansive melodies and whispered internal monologues of her first-person account with sleazy opportunists and indulgences. Wide-eyed, she sings of social anxiety and homesickness whilst being naively mesmerised by opportunity: “A girl like me, would you believe, I’m in Los Angeles”.

Full of ‘80s flourishes, ‘How Do I Make It OK’ peppers Rowsell’s vocal with an increasing degree of despair as she repeatedly bawls “I just want you to be happy”. Yet, for all its melancholy, Blue Weekend is never downbeat - the instrumental transcends into a surging sequence with Joff, Theo, and Joel competing to be heard with just the right amount of convolution.

Blue Weekend, bookended by sister tracks ‘The Beach’ and ‘The Beach II’, presents Wolf Alice as we haven’t quite heard them before: prioritising feeling over musical intensity. With a newfound simplicity, the dynamic shifts hang together around earnest vocals and mature songwriting to produce not only a sonic achievement but an emotionally intimate one.

Blue Weekend arrived 4 June via Dirty Hit.

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