Alvvays’ first album was a gem. A real shining star in the vast universe of first records. However, as well-received as the indie-pop band’s debut was, being released more than three years ago now, it was getting to the stage where those nine delightful songs needed some buddies, and the band haven’t disappointed. Antisocialites is a quality record the whole way through.
The album starts off with three bangers: In Undertow, Dreams Tonite and Plimsoll Punk, all released prior to the album. These first three songs are classic Alvvays. Dreams Tonite, for example, is a dreamy, synth-laden lullaby, with a beautifully fuss-free chorus. The lyrics have the same unashamedly pining feel as many of their songs, with the line “If I saw you on the street, would I have you in my dreams tonight?”, which is especially reflective of their debut single Archie, Marry Me.
Past the three opening songs, there are some moments of experimentation. The section in Forget About Life, for instance, with its minor chords on what sounds like an organ, wouldn’t be out of place on a haunted house ride, and the gleeful cacophony of sound that opens Hey, coupled with its hectic guitar riff, is reminiscent of Menace Beach.
We are still treated to the magical harmonies that are Alvvays’ speciality. Their dreamlike chord progressions are the sort of sonic perfection that gives you warmth in your stomach and is almost like therapy. (Perfect example: the mournful magic that is Not My Baby). Another Alvvays strong point are the middle eights: different enough to give the song a twist, yet tying everything together in a way that gives the remainder of the song a new life, helping it to climax. Guitarist Alec O’Hanley has really taken a step further, too, with some really cool riffs that would make any guitarist smile.
Rankin’s lyrics continue to make the mundane magical, dwelling on life’s trivial details, like “the tealights on your mantle”. She puts to music the moments, good and bad, that we may mull over privately but wouldn’t usually share with someone else. The result of this alternates between almost creepy romantic obsession, like the time when “you touched my wrist and said you liked my keychain”, or raw sadness. We are encouraged to take pleasure in the small things, sometimes to comic effect: “Take that photo of the Mona Lisa, get thrown out of the Louvre”.
The curious album title could very well be a reflection upon the band members themselves. In an interview with DIY Magazine, frontwoman Molly Rankin and guitarist Alec O’Hanley discuss their need for alone time in the initial stages of songwriting, stating that coming up with song ideas can be “embarrassing” and revealing that Rankin was sent away to the Toronto Islands alone to get her musical cogs rolling again.
“Who starts a fire just to let it go out?”, sings the frontwoman on Dreams Tonite. The band without a doubt started a fire with their critically-acclaimed debut, and they have no intention of letting the attention fall away from them just yet. Life seems sweeter with Alvvays as its soundtrack, so let’s hope the music keeps coming.