Described by Mojo as not sounding far off The Velvet Underground, Canadian indie pop favourites Alvvays brought smiles to fans around the globe with the release of their second LP Antisocialites last week; a release which sounds comfortably familiar yet also shows a mature progress as an experienced band. Similarly to their eponymous debut, the group have again chosen to release at the end of the summer, perhaps mirrored in the tracks themselves which often portray relationships at an end.
just the track Alvvays listeners have waited three years to hear
Frontwoman Molly Rankin’s discussion with the NME about her oceanic inspiration for album opener and single ‘In Undertow’ stemming from her early life in remote Nova Scotia may also tie in with the album’s title, which some may dismiss as a typically millennial coin of phrase. ‘In Undertow’, boasts “you find a wave and try to hold on/for as long as you can” as the opening lyrics on the album, suggesting something fragile disintegrating despite the track’s hazy keyboards and warm familiarity; it cements itself as just the track Alvvays listeners have waited three years to hear.
‘Dreams Tonite’ follows up as another quintessentially Alvvays piece, with its minimalist guitar chords weaving themselves into the perfect track about wondering if an seeing an old romance on the street would make enough of an impact to be dreamt about at night. Subsequent ‘Plimsoll Punks’ picks up the pace a little with an introductory guitar arrangement not too dissimilar to The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’, and is peppered with a lexical set of sensory descriptions of sweets and desserts.
‘Your Type’ is a short, snappy piece weighing in at just over two minutes, with more kitchen sink drama lyrics and higher-pitched vocals from Rankin, tinkly notes from keyboardist Kerri MacLellan and jangly guitars which make the track fly by. Its successor ‘Not My Type’ with its love-ridden, breathy vocals aren’t far off those of Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell; it also features rhythmic drum machine beats and synth chords in the backdrop.
Halfway through the album as vinyl listeners pause turn the record over, it’s clear from track six ‘Hey’ that whilst Alvvays may have blossomed since their debut, there are still remnants of their whimsical, carefree nature to be heard. With its rockier, psychedelic instrumentals, the lyrical patterns aren’t too unlike the earlier tracks on the album, and makes its listeners wonder if it’s just the niche sound Alvvays have crafted, or if some tracks are perhaps slightly too alike.
‘Lollipop (Ode to Jim)’ is as sugary-sweet as its name, and its lyrics are comically bizarre with lines such as ‘you’re a lollipop in my hair/you look like Iggy Pop’, as part of a song which is a tribute to The Jesus and Mary Chain frontman Jim Reid. Rankin’s vocals carry ‘Already Gone’, a stripped back piece so raw it sounds as though it was recorded in one take as it was written rather than in the studio.
whilst Alvvays may have blossomed since their debut, there are still remnants of their whimsical, carefree nature
Penultimate ‘Saved by a Waif’ musically serves as the older sister of previous Alvvays tracks such as ‘Adult Diversion’ and ‘Next of Kin’; this time with Wurlitzer organ-type synth notes and more layered vocals. Final piece ‘Forget About Life’ blends both carefreeness and negativity with its throwaway title. Clarified from the off with verse one’s opening line discussing Rankin’s “thought of going in the lake and swallowing”, it brings the album neatly to a cyclical close by tying in with Rankin’s fascination with water and lakes. Yet Antisocialites could leave the listener unsure of their stance on the album, blurring the lines of whether it’s another perfectly Alvvays album or if its tracks are just that bit too alike.