Is it an understatement to say that Wolf Alice are at a high point in their rock careers? It’s a cliche for sure, but one I’m not going to shy away from here, because in this case I think it’s totally justified.

I was lucky enough to see them play live earlier this year, and was pretty well blown away by their stage presence and the way they so confidently and adeptly translated their song-writing to the stage setting. Tens of thousands of others have witnessed this for themselves during the band’s recent UK and US tours, and – of course – their iconic, jet-lag-defying Glastonbury set just a couple of days ago. Much of their appeal comes from their ability to switch levels – from ballad to headbanging grungy rock, while all the time excluding energy, commitment and true-to-themselves integrity.

This background makes Blue Lullaby somehow more special. It’s a collection of five songs from Blue Weekend, re-imagined in stripped back, semi-acoustic form. Whether it’s a guest choir providing vocal harmonies, or some different rhythmical treatments, each track has its own special touch, meaning the EP as a whole feels wonderfully rich and diverse, while clearly reflecting what made the album so great. 

The band’s lead singer Ellie Rowsell had this to say about the EP: “Blue Lullaby came about because we wanted to strip down some of our more emotional songs from Blue Weekend and see if they hit any differently. We also had a nice moment during the Blue Weekend campaign singing one of our songs with a choir and we wanted to experience that again with a few other songs, especially as there are a lot of harmonies and a lot of vocal layering on Blue Weekend. Hearing multiple voices singing together is an unparalleled feeling for me, so I’m happy we got to record this experience and I hope people enjoy it”.

Lipstick on the Glass opens the record, and it’s a great choice. This version starts with a cinematic draw of minor chord strings, before finger-picked acoustic guitar comes in, closely followed by Ellie’s glass-like vocals. As the song moves on, it’s filled out deliciously at the bass end, and then later with multi-layered vocal harmonies. What the band have done here is to fully embrace what the original song is all about, then step back, take a look from another angle, and enrich it, infusing it with a further layer of warmth while at the same time stripping it back. 

Track 2 is the lullaby version of How Can I Make It OK? Those who’ve seen the band play live recently may  recognise this interpretation – played with little more than acoustic guitar, and of course the wonderful instrument which is Ellie Rowsell’s voice. A very special part of his version is the vocal playfulness you hear during the last third of the song, as Ellie experiments with variations and harmonies on the main melody. It’s heartfelt and real. The male members of the band add some subtle but essential harmonies here, too.

I’ve mentioned Ellie’s voice a few times now. I have to, because when you produce this kind of a record, the vocals are going to have to do more of the heavy lifting. Ellie’s voice is pushed even further forward – you can hear almost every little intake of breath, every inflection here. The success of this recording, as with the others in the collection, is really evidence of her ever-increasing confidence as a singer as well as front-person and guitarist. In fact the whole EP exudes and reflects confidence on the part of the band as a whole. They know they’ve made a great album, and they are sure of their fans’ commitment and desire to hear more – there’s a hunger out there for Wolf Alice, and this record capitalises on that – but not in a unsavoury, materialistic way,  This isn’t a record which has been hastily thrown together at the whim of a record company exec – no, it’s a proper piece of art in its own right.

That’s clear in No Hard Feelings, another song which has taken pride of place in Wolf Alice live shows, often featuring during a short, more chilled-out section of the set. The lullaby version adds ethereal choir sounds to soft synths and clocks in at well under 3 minutes. It feels like a beautiful cameo – a perfect little snapshot of emotion, providing a bit of reflective space and the chance to lose yourself for a short while. 

This creates a natural pathway into Feeling Myself, which is probably the most re-interpreted track on in the collection. Gone are the slightly seedy synths and huge, dramatic strings of the album version, and that song’s more springy rhythmical feel. This is replaced with an almost country/folk-style acoustic guitar riff and a gorgeous piano chord sequence which feels like it’s been unearthed from the original and brought to the forefront. There’s something cinematic here again, and with these touches, although the song is obviously quieter and more soothing, it has equally become even more sensual, even richer, and even bolder. Feeling Myself has always been evidence of Ellie’s willingness to open up and lay herself bare to her audience. It takes guts, self-confidence and maturity to do that. And here, you sense she is really letting go and throwing off any last inhibitions.

Finally, we get to The Last Man On The Earth (Lullaby Version). This song was always one which was going to lend itself perfectly to a stripped back interpretation – that piano-based motif, Ellie’s close-up vocals (again), the natural build, and the clear potential for harmonies and more harmonies. The song somehow gains from what it’s lost – less is definitely more here. The song does get quite heated near the end, with the backing vocalists and Ellie becoming almost guttural in their passion, but because that section is limited and contrasts so much from the rest, it’s very effective.

So all in all, what do we have with this record? I’d describe it as a pause on the journey: Wolf Alice taking a bit of a breather, enjoying a well-earned break, and taking a moment to assess what they’ve accomplished. The band seem to be realising what great music they’ve created and are celebrating that music by taking it somewhere slightly new – so we can enjoy the moment with them.


Lipstick On The Glass (Lullaby Version)

How Can I Make It OK? (Lullaby Version)

No Hard Feelings (Lullaby Version)

Feeling Myself (Lullaby Version)

The Last Man On Earth (Lullaby Version)

Along with the EP itself, Wolf Alice have released a number of supporting videos including a series of three ‘making of’ films:

Feeling Myself (Lullaby Version):

The Last Man On Earth (Lullaby Version):

Making Blue Lullaby Episode 1:

Making Blue Lullaby Episode 2:

Making Blue Lullaby Episode 3:


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Words by Phil Taylor

Photo: Andy Deluca