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ALVVAYS Antisocialites gets 9/10



Toronto’s Alvvays have the goods to lead a musical revolution back to the only thing that means anything. Songs. I mean it. Our current infatuation with scuzz and middle finger-over-melody may mean they may not recruit fans by the bucket-load in Australia like they are in Europe, but a band this emotive and melodic with just the right amount of ambiguity requires only a small investment for a massive return.

Their second full length release builds upon their impressive debut with higher production values courtesy of John Congleton (Antony and the Johnsons, St Vincent) and Dave Fridmann’s Tarbox Studio. The band is all the better for it as the production has scraped away the mud but kept the songs intact. I will be talking a lot about the songs.

The album opens with first single In Undertow which hints at MirageTango in the Night-era Fleetwood Mac but veers away from pastiche, and the scene is really set for most of the record. Dreams Tonite is similar and simpler but just as good, leaving plenty of room for Molly Rankin’s on key laconic delivery to shine.

Even fast songs such as Your Type and the highlight Plimsoll Punks are understated. With Byrds-esque guitars and propulsive percussion they seem roomier than anything Alvvays have done before and the vocal melody makes you wonder why no one else has come up with it until now.

Hey is another quirky highlight with a vocal delivery reminiscent of Cate Le Bon while Forget About It is a ballad that would make Benny and Bjorn blush. Lyrically the album is homespun and appears to describe urban stories and scenes. Try the lyric “left the apartment in a state of disarray, tried out the synthesizer you bought yesterday”.

Some may criticise a lack of overall sonic variety (for which I take away one point), but the band tries to cover this by including interjections of sax (Not My Baby) and glockenspiel played by none other than Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub. Bringing the farfisa and synth to the fore has been another means of differentiating this album from their debut. The one thing that has not changed is the brilliant songs and melodies inherent in them.


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