By the time a third album comes along, you often hope the artist has mixed it up a bit, taken a risk. Wolf Alice have not done so on Blue Weekend. But what the London band have done (and done masterfully), is fine-tuned every aspect of their sound, and dialled up the delivery, making for a record which is unmistakably ‘Wolf Alice’, but bigger, bolder, and more brilliant than ever before.
It speaks volumes that the band have stuck with their guns, self assured in the knowledge that their sound has always been stellar, opting to build on the award winning foundations of Visions Of A Life, rather than chucking it aside entirely. Choosing to paint over an already beloved piece of work is arguably a greater risk than starting a fresh canvas.
This confidence permeates throughout Blue Weekend and is what truly distinguishes the record. It can be found at the pinnacle of nearly every track, from the Macbeth quotes of opener ‘The Beach’, to the gnarling lyrics “And now you all think I’m unhinged. Wind her up and this honeybee stings,” in ‘Smile’, and in the self-love celebration found in ‘Feeling Myself’.
It is more than just confidence that has been magnified on Blue Weekend though. Ellie Rowsell’s vocals take up more space to shine, and they feel grander, more arresting . From the untethered shrieks in ‘Play The Greatest Hits’ to the controlled crescendos and softer moments in ‘Last Man on Earth’, and ‘How Can I Make It OK?’ they seem to pack and punch harder than before. It is on these slower tracks, the ones which cradle the record to a close, where the superb songwriting shines brightest, joining with Rowsell’s refined vocals effortlessly, yet with intricacy. “Who are you to ask for anything more?” she questions on the former, the record’s lead single. “Do you wait for your dancing lessons to be sent from God?”, continues Rowsell in retaliation against human arrogance and ego – stemming from the satirical quote of Kurt Vonnegut’s which has earnestly been vomited into the bios of pompous ‘travel blogs’ across the globe.
In keeping with tracks from earlier records though, Blue Weekend is far more than just an album of rebellion or angst, it frequently goes heart-on-sleeve with transparency (think ‘Bros’ or ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’) whether thats about break ups in ‘No Hard Feelings’, troubled relationships in ‘Lipstick On The Glass’, or being sucker punched by the bright lights of a new city in the phenomenal ‘Delicious Things’. This elastic versatility of Wolf Alice, the ability to hopscotch between moments of poetic sincerity to feral aggression is what make the band so immensely exciting and a key reason behind their rocketing success (the band are notably due to headline Latitude this year alongside The Chemical Brothers and Bastille).
So no, Blue Weekend isn’t ‘anything new’ by Wolf Alice standards. But Wolf Alice standards are mercury prize winning-ly high, so that’s not to say the record ain’t incredible, because holy shit, it certainly is.