Release Date: Sep 8, 2017
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Growing up on various island outposts sprinkled around the frilly edges of eastern Canada means that Alvvays are better versed than many on the finer workings of being alone. That said, they.
Somewhere between Antisocialites’ first line (“You find a wave and try to hold on for as long as you can”) and its last (“Forget everything tonight”), Molly Rankin loses sight of what she’s truly searching for. The endless summer of Alvvays’ 2014 self-titled record is gone, as is that album’s romantic interest, whether a real person or an imagined lover made up during Rankin’s various daydreams while working at a smoothie shop. The sound may not have changed too much in the three long years between records, but its lyrical content is more indicative of an overcast early September day, noticeably darker than its blissfully sunny precursor.
It seemed to go strangely under the radar for a lot of people, but back in 2014 the Canadian quartet Alvvays quietly released one of the best albums of the year. The band’s self-titled debut was that rare thing – a fully formed guitar pop gem, full of fuzzy, dreamy anthems elevated to another level by lead singer Molly Rankin’s breathy vocals. It also contained the best song of the year in the wonderous Archie, Marry Me, one of those songs that just never gets old no matter how many times you hear it.
Alvvays burst out of the gates in 2014 with a fully formed sound and aesthetic. In case you thought you already had the band pegged, their second album expands their sonic palette, balancing out their twee-ish tendencies with compelling rhythmic muscle..
Wrapped up in lush, jangly pop whacked through the distortion filter a few times, tales of uncertainty, longing and nostalgia worked as something of a roadmap for getting through it all. The bright, sun-drenched vibes worked in almost perfect juxtaposition with the cathartic lyrics, as though reflecting the struggle between putting on a happy front while trying to understand everything that's whirling around your head. Alvvays had created something that felt like a friendly hand on your shoulder; a realisation that it wasn.
Oh Archie, what have you done? It’s been three years since Alvvays’ self-titled album, a most auspicious indie-pop debut that doubled as a dog-eared short-story collection. Its breakout track was “Archie, Marry Me,” the rare proposal that could rhyme “matrimony” with “alimony” and still sweep people off their feet, but acerbic wit and heart-tugging melody could be found all through the succinct nine-song set. You pronounced their name “always” because you expected them to last. Alvvays themselves have hardly been gone at all.
But here on Antisocialites, in which the Ontarian dream-punks return for a second offering of the melody-conscious, vapor-bathed flights of fancy that garnered the group’s initial wave of online buzz, the guitars don’t behave so wantonly, nor are they as pronounced. Favoring less obtrusive arrangements wherein Molly Rankin’s and Alec O’Hanley’s co-dependent arpeggiation serves more as filigree than foundation, the band proffer a synth-heavier collection of songs that, while catchier and more self-aware, apostatize from the sun-faded guitar sound that buttressed Alvvays. Antisocialites by Alvvays Cleaner though their sound may be, Alvvays refrain from compromising the sui generis worldview that informed the lyrics of Alvvays.
Antisocialites, the second full-length from Toronto indie pop outfit Alvvays, is in nearly every way the equal of its predecessor. As with their 2014 eponymous debut, the band continues to hone a strain of loose, jangly guitar pop in the same vein as TOPS and Pure Bathing Culture, winking at the obscurities of dream pop while keeping both feet planted firmly in the sunshine. Still, with their latest effort, Alvvays find ways to expand their scope and deepen their ambition.
"Did you want to forget about life with me tonight?" Molly Rankin sings on the delicate ode to boozy escape that closes out this ace Canadian noise-candy crew's second LP. Alvvays gave us the greatest indie-rock wedding proposal ever with their 2014 classic "Archie, Marry Me," and Antisocialites is similarly full of fuzzy-guitar beauty and shoegazing romanticism. "In Undertow" suggests a snowbound Best Coast, and songs like "Plimsoll Punks" and "Your Type" course with an Eighties Anglophile zeal that'll have you happily zoning out to lyrics about drowning and getting kicked out of the Louvre for taking pictures.
It was hard to read anything about Alvvays' 2014 debut and not see a reference to the legendary C86 mixtape. The shorthand reference for twee Britpop will probably continue during the Antisocialites press cycle, too, even though frontwoman Molly Rankin has said she never heard the cassette while growing up on a remote island off Nova Scotia. Still, it's easy to imagine the jangly guitar pop bands influenced by the epochal tape filtered through to Rankin, along with more widely available tunes from '80s pop-rock and post-punk acts.
One of the most common phenomena within modern youth culture is the idea that a particular person was born in the wrong generation. Often referred to as an anachronistic set of beliefs or ideals, most bands of the 21st Century have fallen victim to said phenomenon. The most common phrase of these victims would most likely be "I should've been there." Alvvays fits the criteria of this precisely.
I n the UK, the appeal of jangle pop has often lain in its rough-hewn execution, despite the pristine heights to which its practitioners aspire. Tune into the second alluring album by Alvvays, Toronto.
When Alvvays' self-titled debut dropped in the summer of 2014, it seemed to arrive at precisely the right time. Nine gorgeous tunes, each imbued with just the right amount of humour to counter-balance the sense of youthful angst, it was up there with the best records of that year BECAUSE, rather than despite, the fact that it offered nothing but delightfully jangly guitar pop. Tracks like .
The older a genre gets the more things you have to get perfect to stand out. As more of the spaces between the genre and its sound neighbors get shaded in with classic records and artists, it gets even harder. Hip Hop is decades from this problem, while jazz has been there for 30 or more years depending who you ask. I mean, you basically have to be Kamasi Washington to get non-jazz fans to care about your record.
Canada's Alvvays shot to prominence with their 2014 self-titled record -- one of the best indie-dream-pop albums I've ever heard. Three years later, they're back with Polyvinyl doing the same, but this time around, Antisocialites is finely finessed to the point where it doesn't matter if you're a diehard fan or someone who's only just getting into them, you're in for quite an experience -- especially with vocalist Molly Rankin's siren-like voice leaving you fully entranced and teleported to the days of your youth. The dream pop essence of the band immediately jumps out at you on "In Undertow" and "Dreams Tonite".
Alvvays almost seemed too good to be true. The band’s origins on the islands of far eastern Canada were so innocent, their location at the midpoint between Orange Juice and Rocketship so improbable. Bandleader Molly Rankin’s relation to Canada’s much-celebrated Rankin Family folk dynasty explained her penchant for songwriting, but didn’t account for her mastery of the winsome, plaintive methods of indie pop.
As long as the sun is in the sky there will be love songs. Every day we devour songs on ecstatic love, new love, lost love, past love and all the other 101 flavours. We happily embrace remembering what.