A brilliantly lyrical and lovelorn return…

As long as the sun is in the sky there will be love songs. Every day we devour songs on ecstatic love, new love, lost love, past love and all the other 101 flavours. We happily embrace remembering what’s it like to literally go a little mentally cray over another person. For a band, the love song proves an easy ticket as well as a momentous challenge. Do you try and rewrite the textbook? Or master the basics? A tricky question and one Alvvays have managed to answer confidently by doing a bit of both on their sophomore effort.

Causing a splash in 2014 with their self-titled debut, the Canadian jangle poppers instantly caught the ear of the indie faithful with their marrying of dreamy guitar lines and Molly Rankin’s witty and observational lyrics. For every shimmering note drenched in reverb, there was an accompanying couplet about drowning or the ridiculousness of bread makers. When your demographic are bookish types who didn’t necessarily play well in school, a li’l cynicism and dark humour does go a long way.

After three years of writing and touring, the band return clutching a breezy ten tracks, a ‘fantasy breakup arc’ that nearly became reality according to its front woman. What strikes you on first listen is the new level of urgency in the group’s sound, a team up with St. Vincent producer John Congleton bringing their lo-fi influences much more to the front. Things kick off with a bang, literally, with ‘In Undertow’, an album highlight which matches ‘Archie, Marry Me’ for its inventive use of loud/quiet dynamic.

The band boldly change tact on the following 'Dreams Tonite', a charming slice of dream pop which stands as easily the most accessible moment of the record. Still, like a certain quiffed Mancunian band of the ‘80s, buried within this prettiest of melodies is talk of ghosts, being morose and an overbearing sense of longing that coats the entire runtime.

With 'Your Type' the quintet raise the tempo, bashing out some fuzzed-out garage rock with added synth flourishes, clearly displaying their ability to be both naughty and nice in just two minutes. Later, things enter the realm of the avant-garde on the wonky 'Hey' while 'Lollipop (An Ode To Jim)' sounds like a top ten hit on acid — in the best possible way. On the fantastically titled 'Saved By A Waif' some disco keys and bouncy riffs see the group pen a brilliant pop-punk number before closer 'Forget About Life' gets in one final jab to the feels, its closing refrain no doubt soon to become a sing-a-long moment on tour.

With 'Antisocialites' the band have deftly realised what worked the first time around and have expanded on it with some respectable experimentation. Some songs do pack a bigger punch than others, but at a brisk 33 minutes, the album never once outstays its welcome and even throws in a few surprises along the way. It’s almost like staring at the object of your desire while they're secretly smirking and resting their foot on a distortion pedal ready to blow your eardrums.


Words: Sam Walker-Smart

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