There are few modern bands for whom we could realistically tell you that their comeback track sounds like A) a thwacking, thundering juggernaut, B) a subtle, slow-building, almost religious experience or C) a cheeky, sling-your-arm-around-your-mates jubilant bop and all of the above could feasibly be equally true. But, since moshing out of the traps with ‘Fluffy’ all the way back in 2013, Wolf Alice’s finest trick has always been to keep themselves entirely pigeonhole-free.
When Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis and Joel Amey delivered debut ‘My Love Is Cool’, they already had a clutch of seemingly disparate ideas under their belt, but somehow made their styles make sense under one roof. When the Londoners introduced 2017’s ‘Visions of a Life’ – a follow-up that would go on to narrowly miss out on the Number One spot for the second time (#justiceforWolfAlice) but eventually win that year’s Mercury Prize – they began the campaign with a wild one-two of ‘Yuk Foo’ (sample lyric: “I wanna fuck all the people I meet”) and the weepy prom slow dance of ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’.
And so to ‘The Last Man on Earth’.
Announced out of nowhere with a social media blitz of posts bearing a black and white blinking eye and its title, in true Wolf Alice fashion it could have meant anything. A new single? Album? Ellie’s gone off in cahoots with Grimes and stolen Elon Musk’s spaceship to Mars? Only time would tell. Aaannnnnd… well yes, it’s a new track – the first ahead of incoming third LP ‘Blue Weekend’, due June 11 2021.
As for what it sounds like? Well, for their first trick, the band have plumped for Option B – with Ellie stepping to the forefront more than ever. Beginning with plaintive pianos and allowing the singer’s vocal (buoyed in parts by some truly angelic layered harmonies) to shine, the first two-minutes-twenty could almost be a solo record. Then we get a swell – Drums! Layers! A very Beatles-y unexpected mid-section! – and what could have been a fairly straightforward ballad in lesser hands becomes a grand, cathartic moment.
Of course, if we’ve learnt anything so far, it’s that we’d be foolish to try and second guess what it means for the rest of Album Three. But, even as one of the band’s more understated offerings, ‘The Last Man on Earth’ still holds enough intriguing moments to lay the groundwork for some very high expectations indeed.
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