Three years ago, Alvvays were one among many bands writing music in the same vein: catchy, dreamy Californian pop tunes in the style of Tennis, Real Estate, The Drums, Cults or Best Coast. But now, three years later, they are far from forgotton or ignored, unlike most others bands from that list. Instead, their star has only risen. Why is that? Is Alvvays’ success only off the back of super indie-hit ‘Archie Marry Me’, or is it entirely due to Molly Rankin’s gleeful singing voice? Or is it that all nine songs on Alvvays are catchy as heck, even the ones we tend to forget?
With Antisocialities, it’s clear that consistent songwriting is at least part of the explanation of the Alvvays-effect. The various previously unveiled singles – dreamy ‘In Undertow’, Penny Lane-esque ‘Dreams Tonite’ and punchier ‘Plimsoll Punks’ – already proved that Alvvays only ever underpromise and overdeliver, and as it turns out it is again not merely the singles that splash. I mentioned California in the introduction, but of course, Alvvays aren’t from the States but from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and as Nigel from fellow New Scotland band Nap Eyes explained to me, this is a region that has been profoundly inspired by the United Kingdom and Scotland in particular. So it is no surprise that silly ‘Your Type’ reminds me of The Pastels or that tracks like ‘Hey’ have a distinct Belle & Sebastian vibe about them, while ‘Forget About Life’ borrows CHVRCHES’ synths for a dramatic – and beautiful – album closer. So perhaps those influences are part of what’s always set Alvvays apart from the rest, even though they’re coming to the fore only now.
Alvvays have managed, then, to do what other bands of a similar ilk haven’t always been able to: survive. It’s taken a few years (three years in fact, for only 33 minutes of music; if there’s anything Alvvays should improve on, it’s their productivity), but now they’re here they’re here to stay. With Antisocialities the band has another 10 tracks to tour and we’ve got another 10 songs to play until we’ve gotten bored of ’em. Hopefully when that happens, our Nova Scotians will be back with another bang.
-- Caspar Jacobs, September 12, 2017