Canadian rockers Alvvays instantaneously solidified themselves as classics with a single release. Riding the success of their debut self-titled LP in 2014, Alvvays has been busy playing every festival from here to the Moon.
The quirky spelling (pronounced: always) stems from lawfulness rather than whim, though it certainly prompts the latter. There is already an active signed band employing legitimate spelling of Always and Alvvays prefers to not get sued.
Alvvays delivers elegance and edge in a single riff, encapsulating the spirit of modern rock. Guitarist Molly Rankin and keyboardist Kerri MacLellan defy backwards renderings of women in rock. Musicians like Rankin and MacLellan rebel candidly against musical gender roles which so often try to force women to either forgo or hypersexualize their femininity. Frontwoman Molly Rankin released a solo album in 2010, the She EP, a clever double entendre reinforced by the cover art of a flock of sheep striding above and across a suburban development.
Alvvays is living proof a niche sound can go mainstream. Pop music is first and foremost about accessibility which can sometimes compromise substance or depth. Alvvays falls into the sweet spot of enjoying a solid fan base and commercial success while subverting the trap of indie-gone-mainstream, retaining their artistic integrity and vision.
If you’ve been digging the sweet sweet tunes of Alvvays, buckle up because there is more coming. Apparently, a new album is not only on the way but already tracked. It is unclear exactly when the album will be released but until then here are some songs to tide you over (some of which will probably be on said album). Because if there’s one thing industrial consumerism has ruined, it’s patience. Luckily, unreleased songs lurk around every corner in their YouTube prisons just waiting to bless your ears.
“Your Type” — Exhibit A. A brief and exciting continuation of the signature Alvvays sound–dreamy guitar melodies, funky keys and a killer hook.
“Underneath Us” – It is likely this song was recorded for their last album but did not make the cut. Though it is a mind-blowingly incredible song it’s clear why it wasn’t added, returning to the point about accessibility. Alvvays has always been flirtatious with shoegaze tones but they really don’t hold back on this track. Hope you like noise!
“New Haircut” – This track despite being somewhat comedic and playful in nature features some seriously impressive work by all members. I was immediately struck by the pulsating bass line which is perhaps the boldest to date. The three part harmony executed by Molly, Kerri, and Alec in the chorus is exquisitely fresh as the three chide an unnamed target who “cuts his hair like a little boy”. Lead guitarist Alec O’Hanley has never been opposed to using his tremolo bar but this go around is a totally different animal.
“Not My Baby” – Reading like a child’s empty threat to run away from home, Rankin touts her newfound freedom professing “Now that you’re not my baby / I’ll go do whatever I want”. An illusion of arrogance and self-carelessness guide the projection of reckless behavior in the endlessly relatable song which is as much about a bruised sense of pride as a broken heart. Although she declares she no longer has to “Turn around and see what’s behind me / I don’t care”, it becomes apparent that this is a facade. This is the same technique in “Marry Me, Archie” (which has been covered by the likes of Ben Gibbard) where the lyrics mean almost the exact opposite of their face value, an exhibition of lyrical complexity and depth. “Marry Me, Archie” is not a desperate plea for a marriage proposal. Likewise, “Not My Baby” is a declaration of independence on the surface with an expression of insecurity and sadness lurking behind.
“Dreams” – Rumored to be on the forthcoming album, matching lines in pre-choruses pose rhetorical questions: “who starts a fire just to let it go out?” and subsequently “who builds a home just to let it fall down?” The song articulates the pain of loving a deserter and the emotional consequences of a relationship marked by indecisiveness on the part of one, at odds with admiration on the other.
Bonus: Cover of the fabulous Camera Obscura’s “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken”
Written by Ally Mason