By Becky Little (@sometimesboring)
Before we get underway with all the serious stuff, let’s just be clear on one thing: Alvvays are the cutest band in the world. So twee! So dreamy! Ah! On with the show!
Having burst onto the scene with their eponymous album being released in 2014, the dreamy Canadian four-piece are probably best known for Archie, Marry Me, one of those songs you just have to sway to. Now, 2 years later, they are back with second album, Antisocialites, which lives up to the promise of their debut. According to the band’s frontwoman Molly Rankin, they’d probably be best described as “jangly” indie pop, with their tracks varying from lullaby-like to incredibly upbeat. Adding to this, Pitchfork recently described them as being laced with the sounds of the 1960s in their recent review of the band’s sophomore release.
The album somewhat shows a newfound maturity both stylistically but also in production; as while their debut was endearingly lovey-dovey and lo-fi, the lyrics of songs such as Not My Baby (“no need to turn around to see what’s behind me“) and In Undertow (“there’s no turning back after what’s transpired”) suggest that perhaps things have moved on and there are bigger fish to fry. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, Alvvays are still staying true to themselves and keeping up with their signature fast and poppy brand with tracks like Your Type and Lollipop (Ode to Jim), which could arguably be seen as a nod to the style of earlier tracks such as Adult Diversion and Atop a Cake.
On the topic of production, it’s very clear that Rankin and co have upped the ante. Their sound has developed from hazy bedroom pop into well-produced, spine-tingling and game-changing indie. That being said, it is noticeable in Dreams Tonite that Rankin‘s voice gets a little lost under the production, which is probably the single worthy criticism of the album. However, this little flaw could be purposeful as the track itself does display a slight element of melancholic vulnerability, juxtaposed to the “I’m over it” attitude of In Undertow it can display that there are two sides to every breakup.
It appears that the album is full of subtle juxtapositions. Lollipop (Ode to Jim) is a hilarious jeer at a presumptuous ex-partner responsible for a sketchy introduction to LSD. Rankin must really have been sick of this person since the song ends in her chanting “alter my state to get through this date”. On the other hand, Saved by a Waif is instead a rant about the pressures of family life and how restricting it can sometimes be (very #relatable content); “Mommy wants you to be a doctor so she can tell her friends” could ring true to many.
For an album of 33 minutes, Alvvays have really managed to jam pack Antisocialites with some total gems, namely the first single from the release and opening track In Undertow. It is here that the band does itself an immense amount of justice and shows just how far they have come since the days of Archie. It’s clear that Antisocialites is a wave goodbye to the days of their happy go lucky brand with the introduction of lyrics which mock and contradict, but they manage to stay grounded and genuine. Alvvays have truly grown up.