Alvvays

Antisocialites

Polyvinyl

Sep 05, 2017 Issue #61 - Grizzly Bear Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

It was hard to read anything about Alvvays' 2014 debut and not see a reference to the legendary C86 mixtape. The shorthand reference for twee Britpop will probably continue during the Antisocialites press cycle, too, even though frontwoman Molly Rankin has said she never heard the cassette while growing up on a remote island off Nova Scotia. Still, it's easy to imagine the jangly guitar pop bands influenced by the epochal tape filtered through to Rankin, along with more widely available tunes from '80s pop-rock and post-punk acts. On the band's second album, it's hard not to hear The Go-Go's or The Cars as Alvvays pursue a more polished pop sound. There are more synths and less discordant guitars. Rankin's voice is more directly front-and-center in the mix, less filtered by hints of lo-fi production that kept the excellent debut squarely pegged as lineage indie rock, for better or for worse.

If there is autobiographic content on the new record, there is no clear line, and the songs likely work better taken as a collection of individual sketches. Rankin's lyrics skip familiarly between snarls, longing torch songs, and their opposite-derisive kiss-offs such as "Not My Baby." There is no anthem like the standout single "Marry Me, Archie" from the band's 2014 debut. Antisocialites' lead single, "In Undertow," comes close, especially during the verses, but loses steam during an endlessly repetitive chorus. Repetition tends to dog the album elsewhere. See, again, the chorus to "Dreams Tonite," where Rankin repeats "If I saw you on the street/Will I have you in my dreams tonight?" for almost the entirety of the song's second half. Even on "Plimsoll Punks," one of the record's most energetic songs, Rankin digs for uncharacteristically deep-belly vocals before flitting effortlessly into a falsetto. But it's a sing-songy repetitious chorus that drags a song otherwise full of hooks.

Fans of the debut will still find plenty to like here, even as the group's sound has lifted further from the ground towards more ethereal planes familiar to Beach House or even Chromatics. (www.alvvays.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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