In the journey of all great bands, there tends to be a moment that defines their legacy. A track, an album or a performance that lifts the adjective from good to higher echelons. For Wolf Alice, ‘The Last Man on Earth’ could well be that moment.
Wolf Alice had already cemented their place and built a rabid fan-base following the success of their magnificent Mercury Prize-winning album, A Vision of a Life. That 2017 album was a smash and grab raid on the senses by the UK based alternative rock band. Their new single sets a different tone.
‘The Last Man on Earth’ is the opening single from the group’s long-awaited third album Blue Weekend. Yet, those preparing to dive back into the mosh pit will be stopped dead in their tracks by the simple beauty radiating from this stripped backtrack.
Wolf Alice are no strangers to revealing their softer side as ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ or ‘Silk’ demonstrated. However, both those tracks shared similar psychedelic-rock backing by the full band. The BPM may have been lowered, but tonally it still felt like Wolf Alice. ‘The Last Man on Earth’ is very different. The track begins with a gentle piano refrain accompanying Ellie Rowsell’s vocals. It doesn’t just feel stripped back; it feels pure. The production draws you in to listen to every single syllable that Rowsell utters.
What we hear, according to Rowsell, is a song about the “arrogance of humans”. The idea came from how she interpreted a line in Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel, Cat’s Cradle; where he wrote “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God”. The question she asks is “Why does everything need to mean something more?” The song is about those who between the lines and making everything about themselves. It is about our egoistical society, highlighted by the repeated lyric “Does a light shine on you?”
For a song calling out selfishness and self-importance, the track leaves the listener feeling elated. The sparse beauty in the production takes us to a bridge where the drums, bass and guitar kick in and elevate the song to new levels. The second half is a swirling cacophony of psychedelic beats, retro guitar riffs and achingly powerful vocals.
‘The Last Man on Earth’ is a magnificent lead single for the Blue Weekend. It feels like Wolf Alice are reaching their defining moment.
Words by Andrew Butcher
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