First, a little about Alvvays; Alvvays are a five piece set hailing from Toronto, Canada. Front woman Molly Rankin is the daughter of Canadian folk musician John Morris Rankin of The Rankin Group so musical talent seems to run in the family. Alvvays were formed when Molly began playing music with her next door neighbour Kerri MacLennan in Cape Breton. They later met guitarist Alec O’Hanley at a show as teenagers and Alvvays began. Their influences can are read to be the likes of Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian, romantic, anthemic but also a little melancholy.
A track entitled “Adult Diversion” has been making the rounds and creating quite a buzz online and the band release their debut album (self titled) on July 22nd of this year.
The album was recorded at Chad VanGaelen’s Yoko Ono Studio and produced by Graham Walsh famous for working with the band Holy Fuck and John Agnello who has previously worked with alternative rock titans Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Kurt Vile. From first listen, the producing credits and the jangling guitar sound of Alvvays are a match made in heaven.
The album opens with “Adult Diversion”, a titled itself which I imagine would immediately captivate an anxiety ridden millennial audience. The opening riff and anthemic drug beat immediately draw you into Alvvay‘s interesting imagery amalgamation of Smiths/Teenage Fanclub melancholy and riding along past palm trees in California to the Go-Gos . Molly’s vocals are clear and cool and reminiscent of the Californian act Best Coast but less grating and more breezy. The song is about unrequited infatuation. Molly sweetly sings:
“How do I get close to you?/even if you don’t notice/I am all you want”
Another standout track which remained in my head for hours was the second track “Archie, Marry Me”. The opening riff is heavy hearted and Warpaint-esque. Molly sings of being hopelessly in love with Archie and sings of his hesitation towards sealing the deal:
“You’ve expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony/You’ve student loans to pay and will not risk the alimony”
Alvvays beautifully express what it feels like to be in love as a twenty something in an economic crisis with sunny enthusiasm. Alvvays convey a rare quality that expresses melancholy and longing in a way that is energising and uplifting with euphoric riffs, driving drums and passionate but subtle vocal delivery not unlike The Smiths of a previous generation. The lyrical content is romantic and hopeful without being saccharine or nauseating. The sound of Alvvays has a kinship or is something in between contemporaries Warpaint and Best Coast and I feel this record will certainly attract a similar audience. It is a sound which incorporates the nineties alternative guitars with new production and softer vocals. The warm guitar and bass of “The Ones Who Love You” and “Dives” sound like a contemporary take on post punk with a Californian tinged twist.
In “Party Police“, Molly convinces her lover to stay and insists they can “find comfort in debauchery”. I would also commend Alvvays on the strong imagery conveyed in their lovelorn lyrics. We are transported to a place of long summers, tire swings or saying goodbye to a college love in our dorms before we go our separate ways. There is a youthful enthusiastic vibe about this album, a feeling that reminds you of staying up all night to talk after a party because you don’t want the fun to end and in the process sharing your inner most thoughts until six in the morning. The album tells tales of millennial romance under the influence of nineties alternative bands from North America to Britain. I can say on a few listens, I am confident Alvvays’ audience certainly exist already but don’t know it yet and they are in for a treat. Toronto’s Alvvays are a band to watch.
Alvvays self titled album will be released on CD/Vinyl/Tape/Mp3 on July 22nd 2014
Polyvinyl (US) Royal Mountain (CA) Transgressive (EUR)