Alvvays falls into their usual pitfalls on ‘Antisocialites’

Henry Netherland

(Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.com)

Toronto lo-fi fanatics, Alvvays, released their sophomore album, “Antisocialites,” which followed in similar steps to their debut.

During the release of their self-titled debut in 2014, I distinctly remember the praise this band got from the indie rock community. At the time, I had a mild interest in their music, but I never felt prompted to listen to the entire project until over a year later — well, after their buzz had faded. After finally making my way to the album, I came out simultaneously satisfied and disappointed. While the band’s performances were pleasant and easy to listen to, the songs felt forgettable and on occasion monotonous. To this day, I can only remember a couple of melodies off of the debut.

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After my slight disappointment in their debut, my excitement in the band resurfaced after the release of the band’s lead single, “In Undertow,” a warm, reverb heavy, surf pop tune dealing with the turning point of a break up, while the chorus feels a little generic, the remainder of the vocal melodies are a perfect match for the buzzing guitars. Not to mention, this is one of the few moments in the band’s discography where the band’s lead singer, Molly Rankin, ventures outside of her comfort zone both into her lower and upper-register.

Rankin by no means is a mediocre vocalist. In fact, I would claim she is the ideal singer for the 1960s aesthetic the band is shooting for. However, there isn’t too much about her voice that allows her to stand out from contemporaries. She is not a dynamic singer. This is why songs like “In Undertow” are unique in their ability to show off Rankin’s true vocal capabilities rather than subjugate her to such a limited vocal range.

Another one of my favorite songs is “Not My Baby,” which features guitar stylings akin to a less math rock inspired American Football. The song also features one of my favorite choruses on the entire record where Rankin almost seems to float over the glittery instrumentation. The song also has some of the best production on the entire album with vocals and instrumentals being mixed perfectly.

“Already Gone” is easily the worst song on the entire record, which is unfortunate since it has one of the better openings. What ruins the track is the illogical insertion of these small twinkles and hints of distortion that pop up towards the end of the first verse. These little additions add nothing new to the song. In fact, they make the song almost unlistenable, especially for those with headphones.

Should you listen to it? Maybe

Overall, I enjoyed this record; however, the reservations I had on their previous release continue to stand. The two main issues are the lack of experimentation and the frontloading, with the better songs being on the first half of the album. A great deal of the songs are pleasant at first listen but become increasingly grating each additional listen to the point they are sleep-inducing. Despite the band’s lack of versatility, the quintet continues to show their level of talent, and I will continue to look forward to future releases.

 

Favorite songs: “In Undertow,” “Not My Baby,” Plimsoll Punks”

Least favorite song: “Already Gone”

Available on: Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes

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Collegian reporter Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NetherlandHenry.