The fame that the British press has gained as absolute creators of hypes ephemeral. We could spend entire afternoons recalling the number of formations that with their debut aimed to be the next big thing and the next day they were taken down from the pedestal with the same immediacy. As much as some managed to develop a later career, the eternal tagline of “The first album was the best” it will always remain there.
Wolf Alice they might as well have swelled into that huge list of groups gobbled up by premature success with My Love Is Cool. But its revalidation of 2017, Visions Of A LifeIt helped them to make it clear that there was much more there than a band with a couple of hit singles. It’s not just that their second record was higher, but it also helped them climb a couple of rungs on the popularity ladder. An example is its award for best album of the year at the 2018 Mercury Prize.
We have had to wait four years for Londoners to come back to the fore with the always important third album. Again, the specialized newspapers seem to have agreed to unanimously praise a Blue Weekend which many place as his best work. But is it really?
Of course, this is a subjective opinion, but if you ask a server my short answer is no. Personally, I don’t find that expansive sound that Visions Of A Life it flaunted, allowing them to jump from one square to another. From the visceral rock of ‘Yuk Foo’ to the exquisite pop of ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’. From the shoegaze rotundity of ‘Heavenward’ to the ambition of ‘Visions Of A Life’.
Blue Weekend It does not have that variety in the bottom of the wardrobe, but on the contrary, it offers a more cohesive and, above all, mature wardrobe. Maturity, that cursed word that many choke on and that Wolf Alice have turned into a virtue to compose their most elegant work.
That’s where Ellie Roswell pops her head out with her chin pointing into the stratosphere delivering some of the best performances of her career. Fearlessly delving into dreamy melodies, case of highlights Like ‘Delicious Things’, ‘Lipstick On The Glass’, ‘Safe From Heartbreak (If You Never Fall In Love)’ or ‘How Can I Make It OK?’, the vocalist is exalted in each of her interventions. In a way, it picks up the baton from heroines as diverse as Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush or PJ Harvey.
Breaking the dynamic in an almost unexpected way, the inclusion of grunge-punk in ‘Play The Greatest Hits’ and, to a lesser extent, in ‘Smile’ is surprising. Both clash in the global more for aesthetics than for quality, yes. It is as if they feel the need to remind us that under the evening dress they have worn for the occasion, they also hide scars, tattoos and distortion. It is appreciated, although this time it was not necessary either.
And it is that as much as a little more claw is missing, it is difficult not to fall asleep before the overwhelming sophistication of the baladon at the piano of ‘The Last Man On The Earth’ and the final toast that is ‘The Beach II’. I still think that it is not his best album, but I sign right now that Wolf Alice surprise us in the future with albums as beautiful as this one.