Credit: Wolf Alice

Albums of the Year 2021: Blue Weekend by Wolf Alice

By Collaborative

The Glasgow Guardian team reflect on the albums that shaped 2021. Up first, the grandiose musical statement Blue Weekend by modern indie legends Wolf Alice.

Wolf Alice’s rise to alt-rock stardom has been nothing short of meteoric. With just three full-length albums under their belts since forming in 2010, the band has had a visceral impact on the alternative scene with each cycle. Blue Weekend is a grandiose statement worthy of a band this self-assured: an enchanting, almost cinematic collection of tracks that come together to form a truly flawless record. 

Axel Koch, Writer: Already coming off two albums peaking at number two on the UK Albums Chart, and a Mercury Prize win with 2017’s Visions of a Life, London’s Wolf Alice nevertheless managed to once again outdo themselves with Blue Weekend. In terms of indie classics of the last few years, it might not have the emotional gravity of Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, the orchestral grandeur of Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising, or the ambitious eclecticism of the 1975’s Music for Cars two-parter, and it might only be barely cohesive enough to warrant the title “concept album”, but it’s precisely that unpretentious simplicity that’s made it my most played album this year.

Instrumentally, Blue Weekend represents a perfection of the various indie rock styles Wolf Alice have carefully crafted since their 2015 debut My Love Is Cool: grungy rockers Play the Greatest Hits and Smile, caked in just the right amount of fuzz, hearken back to classics like You’re a Germ or Yuk Foo. Meanwhile, softer cuts such as Delicious Things or How Can I Make It OK? build upon the sounds Wolf Alice explored on Bros or Don’t Delete the Kisses. The emotional centre of the album comes in the form of a stunning chamber pop crescendo on the bittersweet Beatles-esque kiss-off ballad The Last Man on Earth.

“It’s precisely that unpretentious simplicity that’s made it my most played album this year.”

11 tracks, 40 minutes, all killer, no filler: Blue Weekend marks a gorgeous new highpoint for Wolf Alice.

Katie Prentice, Lifestyle Editor: Somehow, Wolf Alice’s latest album was exactly what I needed this year, and has accompanied me on many showers and dog walks and I am not sick of it yet. I am no expert, but each song is completely distinct while also fitting into the album so perfectly, which is personally something I have only found The Cure capable of so far. There is a song on here for every mood, and nothing like year two of a pandemic gives you more highs and lows to need to be soundtracked dramatically by an album as confident and passionate as this; some beautiful and emotional songs for sombre mornings, and some angrier, upbeat songs to give me my 21st century grunge fix. Wolf Alice just keeps blowing it out of the water for me. 

Additionally, 40 minutes is just enough for me to not get bored (a difficult task lately), and to stick it on for a study or cleaning session whenever. But, importantly for me, it is reminiscent enough of Our Love is Cool to give me a little dose of nostalgia while listening to something new. Nothing like the last year of university and a deadly virus to make me finally admit to missing high school, just a little bit.

Ciara Higgins, Views Editor: Over the course of their career so far, Wolf Alice have really set the bar high for themselves, but they so seamlessly exceeded expectations with Blue Weekend. Even when the singles were released, it was clear that this album was going to be a favourite of mine, not for the year, but just in general – and, sure enough, it quickly became one of my favourite albums of all time. Ellie Rowsell’s beautiful voice woven with the ethereal, spacey guitar effects and strings is just auditory bliss. It’s great to see how far they’ve come in terms of production value too. Though I love their first album, Blue Weekend brings an extra layer of incredible polish. I think it’s an album that demands an ordered listen-through, to go on that musical journey with them, but the individual songs don’t feel disjointed or out of place when listened to in isolation. My favourite song has changed a few times, but the four must-listens for this album have to be The Last Man on Earth, Play the Greatest Hits, How Can I Make it Okay?, and Feeling Myself. Even if you can’t find the time to dedicate a good, in-depth listen to the full album, The Last Man on Earth is a great pull from the overall work, and exemplifies the skill that Wolf Alice has for writing a deeply emotional banger.


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