Alvvays climbed to indie stardom just over three years ago, following the release of their self-titled debut album and featured single “Archie, Marry Me.” And the Canadian outfit has kept busy since: Alvvays has graced the stages of Coachella, SXSW, Lollapalooza, and Glatsonbury, all while drafting their sophomore album, Antisocialites. Antisocialites, released in early September, presented the tracks that had been intermittently penned, recorded, and crowd-tested along the road. A cohesive build from the album’s predecessor, Antisocialites maintains the lax, pop sound Alvvays established in their debut. The album features the same metallic guitar and sugary vocals Alvvays fans came to love, yet Antisocialites is anything but predictable. Unexpected instrumentation and quirky songwriting distance the album from a dream pop genre otherwise all too familiar.
“Plimsoll Punks,” the third single off of the album, features complicated, layered guitar throughout broken up by an ambient, spacey break in the second half. Another departure from the band’s typical airy soundscape, “Hey” offers an energetic, new wave-esque groove. The track is a satisfying change of pace, truncating the complaisant blocks of the album.
The songwriting prowess can be attributed to Molly Rankin, the lyricist, composer, and frontwoman of the band. Rankin has oft rejected a musical identity centered around genre; Alvvays has been labeled nearly every hybrid pop genre ever conceived—dream pop, jangle pop, indie pop, synth pop and others—but the band emphasizes melody as its primary character. Perhaps the band’s blurry genre focus can be attributed to Rankin’s eclectic influences. In fact, Rankin sites inspiration in the Celtic music on which she was raised: Rankin’s father was the violinist of the Rankin Family, a Celtic folk group. Rankin also lists influence from the Smiths, Celine Dion, and Pavement, among others. Mismatched as her influences may be, the oddities and details of Antisocialites are what make the album memorable.
Recommended If You Like: Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura
Recommended Tracks: 1 (In Undertow), 3 (Plimsoll Punks), 6 (Hey)
Do Not Play: none
Written by Madeline Connor on 09/20/2017