Really, there’s nothing to not like about Alvvays debut self-titled album. It’s breezy, melancholy, sweet, and longing jangle pop. Vocals that sound like a teenage girl pining for a lost summer day, or a lost summer love. Lyrics that talk about how it rained all summer and asking guys named Archie to marry them, all done up in music that sounds like The Strokes and Belle and Sebastian having a love fest in some nondescript, humid Toronto garage with the walls lined with empty cans of Lucky Lager. Molly Rankin sounds like Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell being backed by a Reckoning-era REM at times; but sweet, sad, and earnest all the time. The songs are tight and concise, with a hint of basement grime over the production to give an overall aged, sepia-toned feel to an album already brimming with nostalgia. In other words, if you’ve ever been in love, heartbroken, sad, happy, hopeful, desperate, and have a beating heart this album will do something for you.
Alvvays hails from Canada; Toronto to be specific. I’m not sure that their geographic location holds any real secret regarding the band’s penchant for short, poppy, and slightly melancholy sound, but let’s assume that all the great beer may help the songwriting process. Speaking of beer drinking, “Adult Diversion” is a great opener. A bouncy song that jangles and moves like Real Estate on happy pills. “Archie, Marry Me” starts out with the line “You expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony” before the guitars punch through like Teenage Fanclub circa 1991. There’s a lot of Teenage Fanclub in this great song. It makes an old guy like me swoon. “One Who Loves You” is a sweet, sad tune dipped in plenty of distant reverb and a great bass line that carries the song along. “Next Of Kin” sounds like the Strokes in happier times(were they ever happy?). Molly Rankin has a voice that’s sweet, simple, and earnest. She could pretty much sing the phone book and you’d sigh and think of that guy or gal that broke up with you in the 10th grade. She sings, but she delivers the lines more as if she was having a heart to heart conversation with you rather than singing a song. You feel like you’re hearing her read her diary. “The Agency Group” is a song where you get that feeling of longing, both from Rankin’s vocals and the band’s excellent lilting flow. This song was made for Camera Obscura to cover. Somebody let them know. “Atop A Cake” sounds like a cross between Real Estate’s “Days” and Nina’s “99 Luft Balloons”. It’s a beautiful combination, in case you were thinking otherwise.
As I said before, there’s nothing here not to like. It’s some of the best jangle pop I’ve heard since Real Estate’s Atlas came out earlier this year. It takes all the best from REMs IRS days, a little Teenage Fanclub here, a little Camera Obscura there, and throw in some garage rock for good measure. There’s even some great synth stuff happening in the album closer “Red Planet”. Are you still wondering if you’ll like this album? Okay, check your pulse. Got one? Good, go buy Alvvays now.
7.8 out of 10