“Blue Weekend” by Wolf Alice; the album that moved me in 2021

Wolf Alice, “Blue Weekend”.

“I am who I am and I’m good at it / And you don’t love me, well, that’s not really relevant.”

Of all the swaggering moments on Blue weekend by Wolf Aliceand there are a number to choose from – singer Ellie Rowsell’s honest assessment of her own skills on “Smile” is the clearest and most unmistakable signal that the London quartet has entered a daring new era. and confident. The challenge and delivery certainly lives up to the muscular space grunge riff that drives the track, but what makes it even more difficult is the line before it, where Rowsell finds power in his vulnerability by stating that ” sensitive “is her” perfect “. adjective.”

Not that there has never been a lack of balance in Wolf Alice. The beginnings of the group in 2015, My love is cool, was stacked with breathtaking hymns mixing the dynamics and unpredictability of Pixies with layered atmospheres reminiscent of the Cocteau twins. Mercury Prize Winner Tracking Visions of a lifetime (2018) upped the ante with more genre leaps, sonic experimentation and a true masterpiece of a single in “Don’t Delete The Kisses”. Despite the enthusiasm and all the praise, Wolf Alice projected herself as shy and a bit of an islander, somewhat taken aback by her own success. Interviews with the group were difficult experiences, and Rowsell’s lyrics leaned toward character studies or hazy memories. The band was not hard to like, but not really easy to get to know.

This time, as they say, it is staff. And that’s why Blue weekend is more than just a leap forward, it is a musical and emotional triumph back and forth.

Most of the songs are in the first person, and there’s no doubt they’re more than documentary-style accounts of Rowsell’s real-life experiences. In the spiraling sexual ecstasy of “Feeling Myself”, she goes so far as to refer to her own first name while singing: “Keep my name on your lips / Let the double” L “feel like a kiss. Whispering, “I don’t belong here, although it’s really a lot of fun” on “Delicious Things,” she tells the story of a coked opportunist who met her at a party in Hollywood. She ponders whether or not to date him and wonders if she should just go do some drugs on her own before the song ends as a hazy descent after an epic night out, with an ever-buzzing Ellie Rowsell calling out for her mom. on misty guitars and a lonely piano.

Of course, none of this would work without the fearlessness and chemistry of the whole group. Rowsell, guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey were said to have been within days of the album’s end in Brussels when they found themselves essentially trapped together in the studio as the city entered COVID lockdown. Not having much else to do, they delved into every detail of the album with producer Markus Dravs. The result is an astonishing, textured and confident collection of songs and sounds with nuance, warmth and typical Wolf Alice variety.

The sometimes drastic changes in mood and style Blue weekend to stay in a particular mood for a very long time, which gives each song its own moment to shine. From the ultra-aggressive “Play The Greatest Hits” to the detailed plaintive breakup on “No Hard Feelings” to the effortless pop perfection of “How Can I Make it OK”, the album doesn’t dwell on emotions. . He confronts them head-on before moving on. “Last Man On Earth” does it all in one song. Starting from a simple piano and vocal base, it follows the convention of the powerful ballad to morph into something bigger halfway through. Formula ? May be. But even if you know the rocket is going to take off, you are still amazed when it takes off.

Blue weekend is an emotional journey full of self-control. It comforts. It calls out. He reveals more with each listening. It’s sort of even better at the end of 2021 than when it comes out in June. Even for a band that started out strong and never stopped surpassing themselves, it’s a mind-blowing Wolf Alice document that really makes sense. Or as Rowsell might put it, they are who they are, and they’re good at it.

Follow Skott Bennett on Twitter.com/skottbennett.

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