“Strong” vibes, Lipstick On The Glass and reckless behaviour (“I’m alive, I feel like Marilyn Monroe/ If you’re all popping pills, you know I won’t say no”) – Blue Weekend is a vivid collection of Ellie Rowsell’s personal recollections. And Rowsell obviously reopened some old wounds for Wolf Alice’s third record, saying she wrote these songs in the hope that they “might make people feel listened to if they are going through something.”
Opener The Beach swells from Rowsell’s whispers into lush, textured harmonies as the instrumental intensity escalates around the two-minute mark.
Throughout Blue Weekend, Rowsell’s vocal delivery reflects different personas – from angelic (on the fingerpicked Safe From Heartbreak If You Never Fall In Love) to Gwen Stefani-esque Punk Princess (Play The Greatest Hits) – with staccato Sprechgesang the perfect choice for Smile, which Rowsell has explained was written out of a “desire to fight back against those who try to define her”: “I am what I am and I’m good at it/ And you don’t like me? Well, that isn’t f-cking relevant.”
How Can I Make It OK showcases summery, HAIM-esque harmonies, the highest part (“I just want you to be ha-a-a-a-a-appy…”) pleading like a frustrated inner-voice that’s been ignored for way too long. Immediately afterwards, Play The Greatest Hits – a vortex of reverb, sassy handclaps and alternating riff/chant breakdown (“Play the greatest hits!”), which channels I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News) by Eagles Of Death Metal – barges in, unapologetic.
Producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Björk, Brian Eno, Florence + The Machine) has undoubtedly refined the Wolf Alice sound on the follow-up to their Mercury Prize-winning Visions Of Life set. Song arrangements are super-lean; every single instrumental flourish, metallic riff or cymbal clash is essential. But never fear, Wolf Alice’s snarling underbelly remains omnipresent – it’s just used more sparingly so that when the sleeping beast awakens, the impact is huge!
Blue Weekend by Wolf Alice is out June 4 – including on transparent red, transparent yellow, and green vinyl – via Liberator/Dirty Hit.
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