Review Summary: A true coming-of-age record for a band that's been knocking on the door for some time now. Blue Weekend is indeed all it's hyped up to be.
The chief complaint with Wolf Alice’s Visions of a Life
was a perceived lack of consistency. Detractors pointed to the way punk moments like ‘Yuk Foo’ contradicted the glossy sheen of ‘Heavenward’ and ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’, and some even took it a step further by criticizing the line “I wanna fuck all the people I meet”, as if Ellie Roswell should be predisposed to writing well-behaved lyrics. But it was this kind of spontaneity that made Visions of a Life
aggressively interesting; it’s what gave the album spunk, personality, and life. It’s also what made Wolf Alice feel like its own entity; a band capable of doing whatever it wanted without being constrained by a very particular set of criteria. It’s like Roswell sang in ‘Yuk Foo’, almost in anticipation of the song’s critics: “No, I don't give a shit / You bore me to death.”
That same spirit has found its way onto Blue Weekend
, which to me at least, is very important. Had Wolf Alice retreated and churned out a safe, agreeable indie-pop record to avoid the same sort of backlash, it would have negated every self-empowering message delivered on that song. Instead, Blue Weekend
seems lyrically bent on driving that splinter even deeper, all while projecting the lush atmospheres that they’ve always crafted upon freshly minted neon screens. No track embodies both worlds better than ‘Smile’, which is driven by its heavy guitar presence and biting cynicism, even if ever-so-sweetly sung: “I wear my feelings on my sleeve / It serves me better than to swallow in a sedative.” It goes from a clever one-liner to something of a mission statement when Roswell circles back only one verse later with “Now you all think I'm unhinged, well wind it up and this honeybee stings / Did you think I was a puppet on strings?” Where if before Wolf Alice found themselves testing various waters to see the reaction they’d get, Blue Weekend
represents a band that has discovered its calling and is charging ahead full-throttle. In this case, the message is clear: Wolf Alice are going to do whatever they want, and they’re going to rock your socks off regardless.
Such powerful words wouldn’t mean anything if the music didn’t back it up. Thankfully, Blue Weekend
is a glowing indie-rock powerhouse. It is lush and breathtaking, as we witness on career highlight ‘Delicious Things’, which sees Ellie's vocals careening between conversational/confessional verses and soaring, glistening layered choruses that collectively sound like the most revelatory and important moment in Roswell’s entire life. And it may very well be, as she sings in a romanticized way about finding herself – and realizing her full potential – far away from home: “I'll give it a shot for the spot at the top / A girl like mе, would you believe I'm in Los Angеles?” Elsewhere, the band plays to its angst-ridden, grungier side with satisfying results on ‘Play the Greatest Hits’, a ‘Yuk Foo’ sibling that deploys many of the same tactics almost if for no other reason that to deliver one more “fuck you” to that song’s detractors, and it even comes replete with a wry callback to that song’s "controversial" line: “Well, the fast life is fast…I fall in love with the first fucking creep to open his arms.”
Roswell’s refusal to be bottled up aside, Blue Weekend
touches on a number of sensitive and personally revealing topics – relationships, friendships, introspection – and as you might expect, the results are gorgeous. From the heart-wrenching ‘No Hard Feelings’, which is as musically sparse as the fraying ties that Roswell so tenderly sings about (“The threads that kept us together were already wеaring thin / Would we ever havе tied the knot? Well, how long is a piece of string?) to the more instrumentally full-bodied and romantically longing side of that same coin, ‘Lipstick on the Glass’ (“Oh, but there's no pleasure in resisting, so go ahead and kiss me”), Wolf Alice covers an entire emotional spectrum across Blue Weekend
’s runtime. By the record’s conclusion, however, all feels resolved. On ‘The Beach II’, Roswell sings about drinking “liquid rose” and spending time on the beach with her friends, a sensation captured by the repeated line “happy ever after”. It’s a sort of serene and calm-inducing note to end things on after such an up-and-down experience brimming with passion, and it makes for the perfect exhale.
Across all of Blue Weekend
, one thing is very clear – this is Wolf Alice’s best offering to date, and one of those albums that qualifies as an event
. It’s emotionally stirring, sonically riveting, and just as unpredictable as always. It’s the full realization of everything Wolf Alice ever aspired to be: poignant and melodic, raucous and edgy, and certainly every possible shade in between. It’s hard to ask much more of a modern indie-rock album than what Blue Weekend
gives us, and I don’t think I’d want to ask anything of Wolf Alice at this point. As they’ve made it so abundantly clear, they’re at their absolute best when they follow their own directive – and my, what a path they’ve forged.
Don't call me mad
There's a difference, I am angry
And your choice to call mе cute has offended mе
I have power, there are people who depend on me
And now you all think I'm unhinged
Well, wind it up and this honeybee stings