Four years ago, Wolf Alice won the Mercury Prize for their second album, Visions Of A Life. The list of bands who have been scuppered trying to follow up a Mercury Prize winner is long – for the likes of Gomez, Klaxons and Speech Debelle, it seemed to mark the point at which their careers started to downturn. It only takes a few moments listening to Blue Weekend to realise that is not a fate which awaits Wolf Alice.
A true coming-of-age record for a band that's been knocking on the door for some time now. Blue Weekend is indeed all it's hyped up to be.
The chief complaint with Wolf Alice's Visions of a Life was a perceived lack of consistency. Detractors pointed to the way punk moments like 'Yuk Foo' contradicted the glossy sheen of 'Heavenward' and 'Don't Delete the Kisses', and some even took it a step further by criticizing the line "I wanna fuck all the people I meet", as if Ellie Roswell should be predisposed to writing well-behaved lyrics.
After winning the Mercury Prize in 2018 in their native UK for their second album, Visions of a Life, there was never any danger of Wolf Alice falling victim to the so-called "Mercury's curse," wherein artists picking up the award suddenly found they couldn't live up to the hype. Wolf Alice have always been far too good to disappear off anybody's radar. Before their Mercury win, they'd already released a clutch of superb singles and EPs that played like a greatest hits compilation and a critically acclaimed debut album in the shape of My Love Is Cool.
They've also been a band ardently following their whims - never giving into the hype that enveloped them on their 2015 debut My Love Is Cool, nor its 2017 follow up Visions of a Life - both doggedly determined in building the Londoners stake in this fickle world. Similarly, where Visions magnified My Love Is Cool's blueprint, Blue Weekend is Wolf Alice meticulously taking things further, creating a sizeable, cohesive exposé of reality. Returning earlier this year with "The Last Man On Earth" - a wandering, psyche-tinged, piano-led lament to human arrogance - its great expanse certainly hinted to a brand new chapter from the four-piece.
Wolf Alice likes to take their time with each release. Four years after 2017's Visions of a Life, which netted the North London quartet a Mercury Prize and a Grammy nomination, Blue Weekend completely towers all of their previous output in both ambition and scale. Though going as far back as their 2015 single Your Loves Whore, there were already hints of a band whose '90s leaning, shape-shifting sound would faithfully adhere to the tenets of British guitar rock.
There's this age-old music industry adage about building by architecture - the way an artist reacts to the context their music is heard in. Wolf Alice are practically the dictionary definition of this, moving from a duo to a quartet, from the Old Blue Last to actual arenas, all while retaining some essential essence of what makes them such a deeply individual proposition. But what happens when that cord of communication is cut? 'Blue Weekend' - the follow up to Mercury winner 'Visions Of A Life' - is lyrically more personal, more open, and more introverted, while presenting some of their wildest, yet also most balanced music to date.