There are very few acts these days that are able to unite an entire world behind them in nothing but love and goodwill, but Wolf Alice are definitely at that point. You only have to look at the sighs of relief that welcomed their return in the spring to know that they stand apart from nearly every other artist on the planet. But this could have been a real test after a few years away, because even after they laughed maniacally in the face of the so-called ‘Difficult Second Album Syndrome’ by winning a bloody Mercury for it, it’s somehow difficult to see how they could top the heights they had already scaled. But you know what? They might just have done that.
‘Blue Weekend’ is masterful. Noticeably simpler in sound than was perhaps expected, some songs are stripped right back to the barest of bones. But that’s fine, because when you have moments of pure beauty like this, you don’t need fancy clothes to cover them. From the slow build of ‘The Beach’ through the slinking and deliberate pace of ‘Delicious Things’ onwards, the songs themselves are in charge - hitting hard when they have to, creeping into your hearts when they can. Walking a thin line between describing real life and classic story-telling, only Ellie knows which is which and the detail of that is almost entirely unimportant. Love, and all of its angles, is the central theme - finding it, enjoying it, losing it. There is something about moments like ‘How Can I Make It OK’ and ‘Feeling Myself’ where you can almost hear the songs echoing across vast fields, all goosebumps and racing hearts. Elsewhere, the snapback of ‘Smile’ and frenetic grunge of ‘Play The Greatest Hits’ run wild after getting loose from their leashes, all the more powerful for the sudden uproar causing carnage amongst the peace and tranquillity.
What do you get when you combine a songwriter writing better than ever and a band performing better than ever? This. If there’s any justice in the world, it’s a Pyramid Stage headliner-sized record from a band who looked at all the plaudits for their previous work and instead of admiring the peak still said quietly ‘that’s great, but we’re only just starting ta’. Three for three then, something very few bands manage as a hit rate. Is ‘Difficult Fourth Album Syndrome’ a thing? You wouldn’t bet on that happening either on this display.