Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice

Rediscovering Wolf Alice with Blue Weekend: is it the album of the year?

Or #Ijustwantyoutobehappy

Looking at the commuters packed into trains and Tubes with plastic earrings from crackers stuffed in their ears (also known as Apple AirPods) I always used to wonder what they were listening to.

What was worth downloading on to their phone and spending their two hour commute to work bobbing their heads along to?

Wolf Alice album
If you know me you’ll know why I asked the band to write ‘See you in the future!’ on the sleeve of my Blue Weekend record (Blanket, model’s own)
The Last Man on Earth captivated me from the first time I heard it
Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice
a)This shot is incredible b)Remember the days when bands could get up close and personal with fans – this was back in 2018 when Wolf Alice played Debaser Strand in Stockholm (“Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice” by Demed is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

I didn’t think there was anything new worth listening to and didn’t want to download anything old to punctuate the endless journey to work.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed all that. It’s made me fall in love with music again and rediscover Wolf Alice.

In the olden days I would seldom reach home before 8pm but nowadays working from home means I can lie on the floor for an hour after work before listening to Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1.

And it was on one such day back in February that I was in the shower (after running for an hour rather than lying on the floor) and I heard The Last Man on Earth.

It was the brand new single from the band from London and it was hotter than the water than I was washing myself with.

I don’t get excited about many things these days but I was really looking forward to the next single, which happened to be Smile in April, then No Hard Feelings which came out in May and then earlier this month there was How Can I Make It Okay?

Wolf Alice tape
Blue Weekend is the first album I’ve bought on cassette for years
Wolf Alice played at Radio 1’s Big Weekend last month
Theo Ellis at The Junction
Wolf Alice’s Theo Ellis enjoys playing at The Junction in Cambridge before the first album came out in 2015 (“Wolf Alice at The Junction” by p_a_h is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

If you know how excited Jack Saunders is about Wolf Alice, I’m on the same level.

And then two weeks ago (June 4th) the album Blue Weekend came out.

I would have reviewed it before then but unlike my Sticky fanzine days I’m not on any PR lists.

I would have reviewed it last week but I was busy winning a comedy competition.

If I had to describe it in one word I’d say “Brilliant” but I’m the editor of Fiskal Policy so am going to let myself have more words without, I hope, being lost in the sea of music journalism metaphors crossed with a nine-year-old’s book report.

I bought it on both red vinyl and blue cassette tape because for the first time in a long time, it’s an album I want to be able to hold on to.

Wolf Alice at The Junction
Another shot from that gig at The Junction in Cambridge in April 2015 (“Wolf Alice at The Junction” by p_a_h is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
If you haven’t heard Smile you should click play
Wolf Alice at Glastonbury
I believe this picture was taken at The Park Stage in 2015 – rather than during the secret set at William’s Green (“Glastonbury 2015 Wolf Alice” by OrangeCamperVan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I don’t want to just click on a link on Spotify or YouTube. I want the physical sensation of getting it out of the card sleeve and laying the needle on the groove or pressing play on my tape machine.

I want the physical sensation because it is a very passionate, deeply emotive album.

It makes me long for festivals with 80,000 people singing along to Ellie Rowsell’s lyrics as the sun sets in the background.

At a festival with most people slightly out of tune and singing right next to your ears some of the beauty might be lost but on the album Ellie’s vocals have an ethereal quality. They float over but also are a part of the music.

I’m not sure whether I’d be down at the front or just lying on the grass letting the music wash over me (or dancing in the rain if it was Glastonbury) but I would be so happy to see them.

Happy because every track on the album is simply amazing. Every track has an intimacy to it – I too just want you to be happy – but is also big and powerful and mesmerising.

Wolf Alice at Heaven
Wolf Alice at Heaven in 2014 playing heavenly (d’ya see what I did there?) tunes (“Wolf Alice at Heaven” by p_a_h is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
I always wonder how can I make it okay?
Wolf Alice would be very welcome at Fiskal Policy towers for a fry up

And when I do see them play in January 2022 I think I’ll remember them a lot more than when I saw them at Glastonbury in 2015.

Yes, when I said earlier on in this episode that I’d rediscovered Wolf Alice, I was recently reminded that on the Thursday night of Glastonbury six years ago I was there when they did a secret set in William’s Green.

Usually I remember everything in life, from what someone was wearing on a particular day 15 years ago to what I ate before going to see Paddington live at the Palace Theatre in Watford decades ago.

But in my defence for not remembering Wolf Alice six years ago, it was the first day of Glastonbury so it is very likely there had been a lot of wine in a box and cheap lager consumed at the tent before heading to the stages.

So I’m recommending you treat yourself to at least one copy of the third album and then be like me and get yourself the first and second albums too.

Then I’ll see you down the front on the Wolf Alice tour.

Stay safe for another week!