Opening number The Beach is a slow build track. It begins with a strong pulse composed of a steady drum beat and guitar, with lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s gentle upper register inviting you into the world of Blue Weekend. From here, the track builds with more shoegaze style layers until it transcends into a frantic dreamlike state until it stops suddenly, leaving you bleary eyed and asking for more. And more Blue Weekend gives. It’s a stunning opener to an incredible album.
Wolf Alice first sprang onto the scene with their Creature Songs EP, with their breakout track Moaning Lisa Smile. The subject matter of that song is unconventional, a track written from the perspective of Lisa Simpson of The Simpsons. It’s a cleverly written song and showed a keen aptitude for great melodies coupled with interesting lyrics. The potential was even more on show on 2015’s My Love Is Cool, a kaleidoscopic album filled with ideas that give the album a kind of jukebox feel. This potential was realised on Visions of a Life, the Mercury Award winning album which spawned international hit Don’t Delete the Kisses. There was speculation as to where they could go from such a good album.
Blue Weekend takes that speculation and promptly sets it alight. The album is a true classic in every sense of the word, an act of fulfilling potential so well to the extent that it seems impossible for them to do anything wrong. Everyone on this album sounds like they’re having the time of their life, playing to the very top level. The rhythm section is the adrenaline pouring through the heavier tracks, and the heartbeat to the emotional numbers. Rowsell’s vocals keep getting better, moving from heavenly upper-register notes like in Safe from Heartbreak (if you never fall in love) to roaring like a woman possessed on Play the Greatest Hits. And Joff Oddie adds another level to each song, providing catchy, addictive licks that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to see what that glorious noise is.
This is their most consistent album to date. All of the tracks keep the shoegaze dreamlike tendencies that instantly transport you into the setting they have created. The album cover perfectly advertises the contents of the record. Lipstick on the Glass has the most accomplished chorus of their career, emotional, intense and instantly memorable. The second most accomplished chorus of their career is a grand total of three tracks later on the fourth single from the album How Can I Make it OK?, a very rare type of track offering itself to you like a warm blanket after heartbreak.
It wouldn’t be a Wolf Alice album without some true heavy rockers. My Love Is Cool had the creep-blasting You’re a Germ, Visions of a Life had the vicious Yuk Foo and Blue Weekend has two in its 40 minute runtime. Smile is the second single, and includes the most furious guitar line you have heard. It’s the kind that will make your morning commute feel like the 3.7 mile long straight in the Le Mans 24 hour race. It’s exhilarating. Play the Greatest Hits somehow becomes even more vicious. It starts by letting you like it’s just heaviness with no melody. At halfway through however, it’s small but significant melody appears, giving a boost to the rest of the song.
And even though all the songs on the album are fantastic, special recognition has to be given to the emotional zeitgeist of The Last Man of Earth. It should be a crime to write a song that can consistently give you goosebumps, that can give you a huge emotional reaction each time, that can impress you this much. It’s easy to pick apart a song and mention which parts are good and give you that feeling, but to do that to this song would be bordering on sacrilege. (Bonus: listen to this performance of the song that was done on UK show Later… with Jools Holland and try not to be moved).
There are albums you recommend, and there are albums that you recommend. This one is the latter. If you have had any interest in Wolf Alice, you must listen to this album. Then show your family. Then show your friends. Music this good deserves to be shouted from the rooftops. Wolf Alice have created a masterclass in their own kind of music on Blue Weekend, and who are we to ask for anything more.