I found out about Toronto indie band Alvvays last June when I volunteered for the NXNE Festival; a twenty year old annual Toronto wide festival. I unfortunately wasn’t able to watch their show. The festival had me doing all kinds of good stuff that limited me to only hearing the band play, but I was impressed nonetheless, enough to say that they were the best sounding band on stage that day.
At the time, Alvvays had two songs released from their then upcoming self titled debut album. These two songs ended up being the two songs that start off the album. Adult Diversion is a poppy upbeat track with well blended keyboards and guitar riffs reminiscent of early R.E.M. in front of a fun little drum beat with vocalist Molly Rankin singing with her voice that’s just a little imperfect but it fits well with the style, it also contradicts the rest of the music because her voice sounds a little gloomy. It’s the second track Archie, Marry Me that really caught my attention. This time around Molly’s singing is a little happier, which is funny because the music is a little slower and not nearly as upbeat. What caught me was the melodies and the odd lyrics. Odd in the sense that they’re not lyrics you’d typically hear in song “You’ve expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony/You’ve student loans to pay and will not risk the alimony”
When the album came out in July for me to finally listen to the rest of the songs Alvvays have written, I was pleased with the next track Ones Who Love You with its slow soft beat, it sounds like a good amount of emotion was put in to this track. It’s also the closest Alvvays comes to a ballad, though it is not a ballad.
The faster songs come back immediately with Next of Kin, which blends the pace of Adult Diversion with the melodies of Archie, Marry Me, which so far continues the trend of very enjoyable songs on the album. Then Party Police once again slows things down, this time sounding a bit more serious, but those vocal melodies I’ve loved so much thus far are ever present.
The second half of the album took me a few listens to like as much as the first half. The Agency Group then slows down even more making it probably the most melancholy the Alvvays has sounded so far. Dives seems very experimental to me, being heavily keyboard driven it sounds completely unlike anything else on the album. Atop A Cake is one last upbeat song for listeners to enjoy, reminiscent of Adult Diversion, only with slightly happier sounding vocals. The song sounds pretty good listening to it on its own, but when listening to the whole album, Atop a Cake just sounds familiar by the time you get to it.
Alvvays ends their self titled debut with the even more keyboard driven Red Planet. With the exception of the drum machine sound – well I think it’s a machine – sound in the background, the song just features keyboards and vocals. It makes sense as a closing track, but there isn’t much substance to it. It doesn’t leave you wanting more, which sort of disappoints me.
I was expecting just a bit more from Alvvays. The first five songs on the album are everything I hoped they’d have been based on my excitement for the album. AS I mentioned, the rest of the album I eventually warmed up to, but I still don’t feel The Agency Group and Atop A Cake are quite up to par with Archie, Marry Me and Next of Kin. However they do sound unlike anything else that I can think of, which is all I can really ask. They won’t rule the world, but they’ll more than likely have a good future given the local following they’ve achieved so far.
“Archie, Marry Me” – I guess the main reason this is my highlight for the album is that it caught my attention hook, line and sinker, and I figure why can’t it do that for others? The song can sound like a standard indie song at times, maybe with a bit of 90s influence, but it has a heart to it that I think all fans of the song can hear, which I believe is what makes it so special.
8 (Out of 10)
|2||Archie, Marry Me||Alvvays||3:16|
|3||Ones Who Love You||Alvvays||3:47|
|4||Next of Kin||Alvvays||3:48|
|6||The Agency Group||Alvvays||4:31|
|8||Atop a Cake||Alvvays||3:19|