No one knows how important first impressions are better than musicians. As a listener, you never know what you’re going to get with a debut LP or EP. A delightful surprise has come to us in the debut album from Alvvays, a likable indie pop outfit from Toronto, Canada. The sincerity in their songwriting makes for an introductory effort that is endearing. Combine this with frontwoman Molly Rankin’s soft vocals and fuzzy guitar-pop melodies, and you have the start of something wonderful.
Following suite with bands like CHVRCHES or DIIV, Alvvays’ unconventional spelling is actually pronounced “always.” I’m hesitant to call their relaxed sound “carefree” because it is evident that each song on the album is carefully-constructed and thought out. Alvvays kicks off with “Adult Diversion”, which immediately recalls “Crazy for You“-era Best Coast. The successor track, “Archie, Marry Me”, shares the same light, a summery feel and lyrics dripping with sweetness as well as being relatable, “You’ve expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony/You’ve student loans to pay/you would not risk the alimony.” Rankin sings. She then continues on to sweetly serenade the song’s leading man, Archie, in hopes that he will change his mind and marry her.
Though most of the album sounds pleasing to the ear, not all of the content is exactly light. Take “Next of Kin,” one of the standout tracks from the album. The tune is upbeat and catchy but, the imagery leans on a darker aesthetic: “No color to his skin/inform the next of kin.” The immediate follower, “Party Police” is another standout and carries a sweet sadness to it. Rankin’s voice grasps with earnest heartache and longing as she recounts two individuals finding comfort in one another.
“Party Police” transitions seamlessly into “Agency Group”. It is on this track that their is a blooming resemblances to the equally hazy and dreamy Camera Obscura. A beautiful aspect of this debut is that, so early on in their career, Alvvays is already managing to carve out a stylistic sound of their own. This is the first we as an audience have heard from them, and yet we’re already seeing a very clear picture of who they are as a band.
Lyrics that are as endearing as they are poetic, melodies that are infectious and heartwarming, and an overall sound that somehow creates a lasting sense of nostalgia. Alvvays has all the ingredients and are most assuredly an act to watch…