Wolf Alice: Critics laud band's 'third and best' album

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Wolf Alice's Visions of a Life won the Mercury Prize 2018
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Wolf Alice's Visions of a Life won the Mercury Prize 2018 and peaked at number two in the UK albums chart

Critics have lauded Wolf Alice's new album Blue Weekend, the follow-up to their 2018 Mercury Prize-winning album, as their finest work to date.

The London indie band performed tracks from latest offering Blue Weekend to an audience of only cows at Glastonbury last month, and again for viewers at home for Radio 1's virtual Big Weekend.

Reviewers have predicted their "masterpiece" release could be "huge".

The Guardian gave the "polished" album five stars.

Its writer Alexis Petridis wrote: "On their third and best album, the London four-piece embrace a more polished, widescreen sound that serves their sharp writing on late-20s anxieties."

He said the record - which features tracks like The Last Man On Earth, Smile, No Hard Feelings, How Can I Make It OK? - represented the exceptional fulfilment of the band's ambitions.

"The move for something bigger can be the moment when artists falter, where a glaring discrepancy between ambition and ability is revealed, or a desire to perform on a bigger stage swamps the essence of what made people like you in the first place," wrote Petridis.

"But, as it turns out, boldness suits Wolf Alice better than you might expect. Listening to Blue Weekend, you're struck by an appealing sense of everything clicking into place."

"Without wishing to heap on unreasonable expectations, it has the distinct tang of an album that could be huge," he concluded.

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Wolf Alice, Haim and Damon Albarn are among the artists taking part in the special livestream

The Independent offered another glowing five-star review. "The careening thrills of their teenage and early 20s tunes have been replaced by more assured - but still intensely emotional - of singer-songwriter Ellie Rowsell's structures," wrote Helen Brown.

"If you imagine their old songs as rally cars, the new ones are still driven as wildly, but with steelier focus and in-built roll cages.

"As with Visions, this third album sees the band hopping between styles - folk, garage rock and shoegaze - only now they're steering deeper into the corners and controlling the skids."

Image source, Getty Images
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Wolf Alice are guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis, singer-songwriter Ellie Rowsell and drummer Joel Amey

The Times was also impressed with the band's transcendent mix of folk, grunge, country and "bucketfuls of talent", awarding four stars.

Journalist Will Hodgkinson agreed this could be the moment the band move from being indie heroes to modern greats.

"The album showcases the increasing sophistication of Rowsell's writing and the complexity of the band's sound," he wrote.

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"There is the impression of a band finding their identity and confidence through the styles of music they love," he continued.

"This is a record that crystallises the idea of Wolf Alice as one of the great modern British bands - and definitely the best grunge/soft rock/pagan folk hybrid of them all."

Analysis by Alex Taylor, Entertainment reporter

If there's one word to describe Wolf Alice's third album, it's confidence - musically bold and yearning for the big screen, yet assured in its ability to embrace vulnerability in lyrics.

Blue Weekend follows the London rock quartet's Mercury Prize win for their sophomore album Visions of A Life in 2018.

While that record traded the bombastic 90s alt-rock guitar sounds of their debut, My Love Is Cool, to branch out in multiple, sometimes confusing directions, Blue Weekend settles down and refines.

Smile is a teeth-gnashing declaration of self-worth from singer Ellie Rowsell, part of a journey that seems to chronicle a personal breakup, recovery and revival.

If their track Don't Delete The Kisses previously distilled the teenage rush and confusion of love - and the fears surrounding it - Blue Weekend adds adult depth to the discoveries of 20-something life, with Rowsell's voice soaring against grand backdrops.

It's an album begging to be played live. And loud. A treat to look forward to.

At this year's Glastonbury live-stream, the band performed inside a stone circle on the top of a hill, but the performance was largely lost due to technical issues with the website.

The quality of their latest album has not been lost on the music press, however, it seems.

The NME described Blue Weekend as "a stone-cold masterpiece full of confidence and magic", and once which cements Rowsell and co's place at the peak of British music.

"If the singer and guitarist's songwriting has become even more accomplished since Wolf Alice's last album, then so has her bandmates' too," said Rhian Daly.

"Blue Weekend is the group's most cohesive listen, and keeps intact the restless spirit that makes their work so unpredictable and exciting."

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The Evening Standard dished out four stars, noting Wolf Alice's newfound "take-it-or-leave-it confidence".

"There's plenty to dig into, especially on The Last Man on Earth, which embarks on a journey from wistful piano chords to an immense finale tailor-made for festival fireworks," wrote David Smyth.

"It's obvious they have no intention of backtracking on their ascent towards becoming one of the UK's biggest bands."

Wolf Alice's third album Blue Weekend is out now

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