tue 05/12/2023

Album: Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend

Album: Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend

A big venue proposition who remain individual and creatively dynamic

Boarding the bus to the big time

When Wolf Alice appeared a decade ago, you’d have to have been a soothsayer of Merlin-like proportions to predict the career trajectory they’ve had since. Certainly, prior to their debut album, this writer took them for just another female-fronted London indie guitar band, following the same old formula.

Instead, they blossomed into imaginative alt-rock/pop ones-to-watch who can sell out Alexandra Palace, a Mercury Music Prize under their belt, now on the verge of big-festival-headlining proper fame.

They deserve it. It’s an overused word (by music journalists, at least) but eclecticism is what makes them an exciting proposition. Alongside student-friendly indie, the songs on their two prior albums ranged from the lovely, “baggy”-flavoured “Freazy” (from 2015’s My Love is Cool) to the dub-funk of “Beautifully Unconventional” (from 2017’s Visions of a Life) and Blue Weekend has equal range. Anyone who saw them kick off Glastonbury’s livestream recently might assume they’d mutated into a Royal Blood/Biffy Clyro hard rock outfit. Such is not the case. Certainly, the heavy-riffin’ “Smile”, featuring the Debbie Harry-style rapping of frontwoman Ellie Rowsell is a tasty mosh-pit banger, but it hardly defines things.

The songs run the gamut from the Seventies West Coast-style anti-love song “Safe From Heartbreak (if You Never Fall in Love)” to the spacious synth-swathed masturbatory ode “Feeling Myself”; from the joyful temper tantrum punk of “Play the Greatest Hits” to the Slowdive-y dream-pop of “No Hard Feelings”. Particularly notable is “The Last Man on Earth”, which blooms from a piano-laced slowie to effusive space-indie-gospel epic.

Rowsell moves easily between voices, from sweet soprano to fierce rock star to chatty mate, and the lyrics hold the attention, life snapshots, sometimes apparently about their journey, sometimes about assimilating lost love/ lack of love. It is a consciously ambitious album that maintains a grounded feel, as in, it sounds as if they’re genuinely engaged, rather than heading towards pretentiousness. On a couple of listens, it doesn’t always match the sheer chewiness of their last album but it does sound bigger, like the kind of album that may take them where they’re going.

Below: Watch the video for "Smile" by Wolf Alice

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