|2021||Blue Weekend||Wolf Alice||★★★★||83||Rock||Shoegaze||Dream Pop|
I was a big Wolf Alice fan back when their debut album came out in 2015, but their 2017 follow up lacked a lot of the emotion and raw energy that drew me to the band to begin with.
2021’s Blue Weekend shows a widening of their sound, as the band grew more towards a direction that’s a bit softer and more ethereal, while still sometimes unleashing the loud, energy that’s always drawn me in.
The biggest change here is that the band fits into the dream pop scene much more now than before. Arpeggiating chords, simple keyboard synths, some heavy downbeat accents in the percussion section, and loud, shoegaze-style choruses. Their previous album touched on a lot of these elements, but felt like they were trying too hard to do something cool without really executing or fully committing.
Now it’s working, and that dynamic range is pretty fun to listen to. “Feeling Myself” starts soft but has this slow, shoegaze explosion of a chorus that kind of oozes with coolness. There’s the intimate piano transitioning into a big, triumphant finale in “The Last Man on Earth.” And then there are the two softest tracks – “No Hard Feelings,” a beautiful and simple song that follows a soft guitar line through a haunting synth choir, and “Safe From Harm” – which contrast really well with the two loudest songs – “Smile,” a bright rock track with a Smashing Pumpkins sounding guitar screech, and “Play The Greatest Hits,” a raucous crowd pleaser that was surly thrown on the record for holdouts like me who complained about their less aggressive 2017 effort.
Other album highlights include indie-pop influenced “How Can I Make It Ok” and “Lipstick on the Glass” – the best possible version of a Phantogram song – and “The Beach II,” which probably hits the shoegaze angle the hardest.
I really do enjoy every song on this record. Blue Weekend might not be the high-octane rocker I’ve craved since Wolf Alice’s debut, but I really think the album works and the softer tunes are absolutely welcome.