ALBUM REVIEW: Wolf Alice, Blue Weekend
Wolf Alice is an indie rock band who’ve been cultivating a dark blend of guitar pop, punk and baroque since the early 2010s, debuting with 2015’s My Love Is Cool. Since then, Ellie Roswell has been increasing the bands profile, becoming one of the bigger names in indie rock at the current moment. I won’t lie and say I’ve been following this band for a long time, because I haven’t. I guess more eccentric figures like St. Vincent or even Kevin Parker of Tame Impala have held my attention more when it comes to this vast genre. I first became in tune to this band with their first single from Blue Weekend, entitled “The Last Man On Earth”. I found it to be pretty emotionally potent as well as instrumentally powerful, slowly building up the pianos until a dramatic closing piece with echoed drums. After listening to this, I had pretty high hopes for the album. The following two singles, “Smile” and “No Hard Feelings”, simply didn’t sound like hits to me, however.
The band has a very psychedelic and drum fill-filled style of playing that I like quite a bit, something that didn’t really shine through on the singles. To get it out of the way at the start, I think this album’s biggest weakness is how derivative it sounds at times. “Delicious Things” does sound a little too similar to Fiona Apple in its posh-rap verses, and “How Can I Make It Ok?” does read to me like a Nilüfer Yanya track. This leads to a lot of sonic inconsistencies across the track listing, going from indietronic to punk to baroque just a little too rapidly for my tastes. Thankfully, there are enough good songs on here to drown out those underwhelming or just plain bad ones. On top of that, the band has good chemistry and Ellie’s voice is powerful and tuneful on each and every track here.
“Lipstick On The Glass” has this looping blues-rock sound to it and a pretty good chorus. Lyrically, she’s digging into themes of taking an ex back. You can really hear the anticipation of pain in her voice as she belts out “Once more!”. Even as derivative as it is, “How Can I Make It Ok?” is a super solid track here, I love how the simple backing allows Ellie to focus on projecting her phenomenal voice and on forming a catchy chorus. “Play The Greatest Hits” is a pure punk rager, it has this stomp-clap percussion and rolling bass that reminds me of something out of the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack. The closer “The Beach II” does a great job at wrapping everything in a nice bow, definitely better than the opener “The Beach” does at the start. She has this really subdued vocal approach on this one that fits in well with the slowly rising, shoegaze guitar parts. This album is a great effort that could’ve used some organization and cutting for sure, and sharper lyrics. The song structure, drums and vocals are definitely the strongest parts here and when they shine, they blind with just how impressive they are.