Just when music in 2021 couldn’t get any better, Wolf Alice blessed our ears with another fantastic album. If you read my previous article on the best albums of 2021 so far, then consider this a firm addition to that list. You may, or may not, have seen that Blue Weekend has already topped the charts as a number one album, giving Wolf Alice all of the exposure they deserve. So, statistically speaking, Blue Weekend has proven to be a popular record – but is it all the rage? Well, I for one, think it warrants all of the praise it has accrued, as well as all of the awards that come with it.
Since we would be here a while if I took the time to break down this album track by track, I have selected some of my favourites from the record to discuss. Perhaps the most striking thing about this record is its universality – you could be listening to this in the Sixth Form Common Room, gazing out of a train window, or sat in the office simply taking it all in. It’s the kind of album that makes you want to fall in love with live music all over again; swaying at a sweaty O2 Academy venue with a pint of cider that costs the same price as your train fare. That aside, Blue Weekend is Wolf Alice’s first album release since 2017 and needless to say, it has been worth the wait. The diversity and experimentation with sound is something that most definitely elevates the status of this record. We move from the lucid, indie vibes of Lipstick on the Glass, to the punk, alt-rock style of Play the Greatest Hits. It is as though, in a matter of minutes, we go from feeling the transcendent power of love, to being thrown into the mosh aimlessly by our mates. To have the capacity to elicit such varying emotional states all on one record is something that must not be underestimated.
Wolf Alice’s playful sound palette is not the only great aspect of this record, as their lyricism is certainly up to scratch too. With a poetic eye, Wolf Alice’s lyrics validate our emotions and inject life into them, such as in Lipstick on the Glass, where lead-singer Ellie Rowsell sings ‘But nothing seems inviting / Except the image of your open arms / Calling back to me’. Another favourite from the record is Safe From Heartbreak, where Rowsell lays bare the rawness and depth of going through heartbreak, and glides through the melodies with her smooth-as-butter vocals. The acoustic element of Safe From Heartbreak sets us up to feel as though Rowsell is right there with us, serenading almost, as we learn to accept and find coping mechanisms for our emotions.
Incidentally, my next favourite song on the album happens to be the follow-up track, How Can I Make It OK?, which seems to be nodding to Wolf Alice’s Fleetwood Mac influence through its opening chords. Once again, we traverse the dreamy tones of Rowsell’s voice, chasing self-fulfilment. How Can I Make It OK? also displays some honest songwriting, especially when Rowsell sings, ‘But to live in fear isn’t to live at all’, and I think we all feel that at some point in our lives – as teens, and as adults. What stands out particularly in How Can I Make It OK? is the acknowledgement of both our imperfections as humans, as well as our capacity to develop meaningful relationships. To see and experience life in all of its colours, we must, as Wolf Alice advise, go through the blues to get there.
The second track on Blue Weekend, Delicious Things, is a commentary on the all too familiar notion of imposter syndrome – where one feels like they don’t quite belong where they are. Indeed, the beauty of this song is its ‘relatable’ aspect, as even though we are not all artists travelling around LA for our careers, we too get the same sensation when we start a new job or embark on a new pathway. For Rowsell, despite the past half-decade or so of fame, it doesn’t always feel like her dream has materialised. We can see her surprise at Wolf Alice’s success whilst also recognising parts of ourselves in the lines, ‘I’m socially anxious and a long way from home’ and ‘I’m no longer pulling pints, I’m no longer cashing tills’. To a great extent, Delicious Things feels empowering in the sense that Rowsell shows how she has stayed grounded throughout her career, as well as being open about her mental health. Even if at times we are ‘socially anxious and a long way from home’, we also know that this is a shared feeling; one that we can work and grow with.
At the end of the record, we are gifted with the track The Beach II, which is not only fitting, but highlights how we can find solace and happiness through our surroundings. We might be having a ‘Blue Weekend’, yet nature remains, beckoning us to find comfort. The distorted vocals remind us that ultimately, the beach does not care who we are, who we are with, or what we are wearing, it exists as a place where individuality and harmony are celebrated. The Beach II unlocks the fragments of our past, reminding us of the restorative power of both nature and socialising. In just under four minutes, we see ourselves beside our friends sipping ‘wine from a plastic cup’ and throwing ‘stones into another’.
Overall, Blue Weekend, despite its title, uplifts us and asserts itself as a 10/10 album. We can hear the enjoyment of Wolf Alice making this record, learning lessons in life and love, and reigniting our passion for live music. As you might have been able to tell, this record moved me, and I hope, if you choose to listen to it, that it might just do the same for you.