Sheridan Riley is the most recent addition to the band, replacing Phil MacIsaac on drums. (Courtesy of Polyvinyl Record Co.)
Alvvays is a Toronto-based indie band who has just released its sophomore album, “Antisocialites.” The band’s first album, “Alvvays,” was a decent showing of heavily reverbed instruments with ethereal vocals on top, but there was not too much of great substance outside of the singles. This time around, they have bulked up their song writing capabilities across the board.
“In Undertow,” the album’s opener, begins with a lone short keyboard quietly playing a chord, and then the rest of the instruments quickly exploding in, like the wave that lead singer Molly Rankin starts singing about. It is an excellent way to start off the album and a definite highlight, but the rest of the song continues to deliver with Rankin’s vocals and the wall of guitar distortion working perfectly in tandem with each other.
The second song and the album’s second single is “Dreams Tonite,” and just like the first track, it is about lost love. The song is a bit slower than its predecessor, but the way Rankin croons over a guitar lead that sounds like it was ripped straight from the Cocteau Twins is so melancholic and dreamy that it would be set perfectly playing in a bar in Twin Peaks, Wash.
For the next few tracks, the album picks up pace. There are three somewhat strong tracks, but their flow does not necessarily work in the best manner. “Plimsoll Punk” falls into the trap of trying to spice up the song structure but doing so ineffectively. The first half of the guitar solo has a somewhat out-of-place, somewhat obnoxious tone which causes unneeded irritation, while the ending is just a few faded synth-pad tones that draw out a song that was meant to have a curt ending.
“Your Type” is a great energetic tune with a bouncy melody, and the only qualm is the vocals are not brought to the energy level the rest of the sound suggests it to be at. Aside from the verses of “Not My Baby” that lean too heavily on a vocal performance and melody that are unable to keep the listener fully attentive, the rest of the song has enjoyable parts to hear.
The album’s B-side commences with “Hey.” The song has a nice bassline thumping to keep the flow going while the intermittent jolts of guitar help keep the energy up. “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” has great vocals that when added to the backing track create a seamlessly chugging beat to nod along with, and the oscillating of them during certain parts helps greatly as well. In terms of album structure, “Already Gone” serves a great purpose to break up the speedy jamming to harp on the beauty that ballads could elicit; however, it fails in doing an adequate job of sounding good for itself, with the main guitar line just losing its impact from the repetitiousness it has. The closing track “Forget About Life” has such a great build up and honest emotion in it, yet it ends too abruptly, and the listener is unable to fully soak in all that the song has to offer.
For the most part, Alvvays know how to concoct pleasurable sounds for the ear. The biggest issue with “Antisocialites” is its lack of structural prowess. Many of the songs have parts that should be excluded, added to, extended or altered that may sound fine on a first listen, but become apparent after repeated listens in their proper order. The song structures themselves are a bit underdeveloped at some points when moments capable on musical ingenuity are forgone for lengthened choruses. This would be a good album indie fans to listen to while doing a task that allows attentive ears without allowing to divert total focus.