Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend Music Album Reviews

Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend Music Album Reviews
The UK band’s enormous third album is pristine and emotionally extravagant, the platonic ideal for contemporary big-tent rock music.

Not everyone has the energy, confidence, or money to be among the crowd at Glastonbury or Primavera, playing Tetris with the festival schedule, shuttling between three different stages trying to catch the best 10 minutes of every set. Wolf Alice’s extravagantly emotive third LP, Blue Weekend, is a safe substitute for the experience, not just for 2021 but for virtually any year between 2017’s Visions of a Life and now. Blue Weekend is fluent in both alt-rock and the domain of pop artists that are most likely to headline alt-rock festivals. They’re the platonic ideal for big-tent rock music in 2021: lead singer Ellie Rowsell gives 20-somethings the megaphone of a superhuman, working through vices, crises of confidence, and a pervasive misogyny that success has only worsened, upending UK lad-rock supremacy while staying firmly within its lineage.

Blue Weekend makes ample use of the big Wolf Alice jukebox. When the negative space is flooded with reverb, Wolf Alice flaunt the glitziest production values ever heard on a shoegaze album; turn the reverb down and they’re a more guitar-centered version of big-budget bedroom-pop. “Safe From Heartbreak (if i never fall in love)” is Wolf Alice’s entry into indie-adjacent, twang-free country-pop; strip away the floodlit harmonies that make Rowsell sound like a one-woman Staves and the 12-string overdubs and it’s an Elliott Smith song.

But if there’s any overarching pop culture trend defining Wolf Alice’s existence, it’s how they repackage existing IP to reflect modern sensibilities. This is where Wolf Alice’s impact feels most distinct: Rowsell eyerolls her way through “Last Man on Earth,” which variously recalls Bowie, the Beatles, and Pink Floyd as she mocks the mythos of male genius that animates classic rock boosterism. “Smile” barely conceals its disdain for critical condescension as the band works through a funk-metal groove that could serve as the theme song for a gender-flipped reboot of Entourage.

In the context of popular alternative rock, Blue Weekend is inspiring, maybe even life-changing for anyone who hears “Smile” alongside bands like Royal Blood or Catfish and the Bottlemen. But Blue Weekend can seem a bit circumspect compared to their Dirty Hit labelmates. The 1975 or Rina Sawayama’s eclecticism is far messier and riskier and no matter where it takes them, they never leave any doubt whose song it is. Three albums in, Wolf Alice still lack a quintessence that immediately establishes a song as Wolf Alice rather than bending to its influences first. Rowsell can sell the feeling of being inelegantly wasted on “Play the Greatest Hits” (“I leave the present empty/But I make it gift wrapped”), but similar to Visions of a Life’s “Yuk Foo,” its foray into a noise can feel a bit tokenized.

On “Delicious Things,” Rowsell dips into a husky lower register to outline a debauched stay in Los Angeles. It all turns on one brilliant final line where Rowsell calls her mom to check in, taking “Delicious Things” out of the realm of musical tourism and into a sad and very human drama; as she takes ownership of her capitulation to the illicit charms of various party favors and wolfish bullshit artists, “Delicious Things” proves the endurance of basic Hollywood fantasies for people who should probably know better.

For all of its obvious ambitions towards creating a “cinematic” scope—quoting Macbeth on opener “The Beach,” ending with “The Beach II,” and fitting a loose breakup narrative in between—Wolf Alice work more on an episodic level, each track creating a specific mood easily separable from the whole. That’s not really a figure of speech—with no way to road test these songs, the band played them against muted YouTube clips to see if they got the vibe right. Blue Weekend always nails the vibe, they nail everything, but often in a way that sounds micromanaged. It’s easy to scapegoat the fussy production of Markus Dravs, which leaves Rowsell like so many of our gifted and versatile actors vying to stuff themselves in a CGI bodysuit for Marvel. But if Blue Weekend sounds too big to fail, he’s doing his job. This is the guy bands call to get that extra boost from “Mercury Prize nominee” to “Grammy winner”: The Suburbs, Viva La Vida, those first two Mumford & Sons albums, Florence and the Machines’ How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, all of which sound like GarageBand scratch tracks compared to Blue Weekend.

There’s one exception tucked away towards the end, enough to question the album’s entire approach. “No Hard Feelings” mostly consists of Rowsell’s voice backed by bass guitar and almost nothing else—none of the triple-tracked vocals, no guitarmonies, no bleats of synthesizer or Sistine Chapel reverb. Not that it lacks for drama: Rowsell spends the second verse heartbroken in a bathtub, listening to Amy Winehouse, trying to siphon the pain in her music as her own. A few lines later, she realizes “there’s only so much sulking the heart can entertain,” and “No Hard Feelings” emerges as an unusually mature and forward-thinking breakup song.

But nothing less than a masterpiece was to be expected of Wolf Alice’s third album. That’s just how it goes for a certain kind of artful and ambitious British rock band, even if they hadn’t respectively earned a Grammy nomination and the Mercury Prize with their first two. Look, I don’t make the rules, the British press do, and their handiwork has already placed Blue Weekend on a critical echelon occupied by the likes of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and To Pimp a Butterfly. You can’t blame anyone for going overboard at a time when Wolf Alice are ever so close to returning to their natural habitat playing to great lawns across the globe, yet the only thing that seems to prevent them coming off like the biggest band in the world on Blue Weekend is that they also want to be every band in the world.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend Music Album Reviews Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on June 24, 2021 Rating: 5


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