Alvvays: Blue Rev (Polyvinyl) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 6th, 2022  

Alvvays

Blue Rev

Polyvinyl

Oct 06, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


It’s always a little concerning when a critically lauded band pretty much disappear from view. But beloved Canadian indie-poppers Alvvays hadn’t expected their third album, Blue Rev, to take five years. Indeed, they’d already started demoing new tunes soon after releasing their acclaimed second album, 2017’s Antisocialites. Then they were hit with a series of unfortunate events. Singer Molly Rankin’s apartment was broken into and a recorder full of demos vanished into the ether. There was a basement flood that almost wiped out all of the band’s equipment. They then lost their entire rhythm section, and when founding members Rankin, Kerri MacLellan, and Alec O’Hanley recruited new members in the form of drummer Sheridan Riley and bassist Abbey Blackwell a global pandemic reared its head, meaning there was little opportunity to rehearse together. After such a run you wouldn’t blame the band if they occasionally cast a furtive eye to the horizon in anticipation of ‌a plague of locusts.

However, the good news is that Alvvays have returned with an album that retains much of what made them such an engaging proposition in the first place, albeit with a much harder edge to their sound. Rankin’s wonderful peel of bells vocal is still there, but this time around there are dirty, swirling distorted guitar licks and a kinetic propulsive energy that sets Blue Rev apart from its predecessors.

Alvvays have certainly shaken up their sound, although there’s still a fair share of the sort of songs that initially attracted such a loyal fanbase. For example, the wistful chug of “Bored in Bristol” and the evocative jangling sparkle of “Velveteen”—in which Rankin reflects, “Is she a perfect 10?/Have you found Christ again?”—would not feel out of place on their previous albums. Elsewhere, the band have fun experimenting, particularly on “Very Online Guy,” which veers toward an almost French pop sound. And after previously writing a song name-checking The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid on “Lollipop (Ode to Jim),” on this occasion it’s another legendary frontman’s turn as Rankin sings, “You’ll be there in the rain glowing like the first night/Trying to explain/That when you walk away it’s gonna be for good/You were my Tom Verlaine,” on the appropriately titled “Tom Verlaine.”

Blue Rev is a sublime return and whilst there’s nothing quite as instant as “Archie, Marry Me,” tracks such as the glorious “Belinda Says” or the punky breakneck distortion of “Pomeranian Spinster” are as good if not better than anything they’ve previously released. Indeed, throughout the album, there’s a joyful spontaneity and a sense of pent-up energy and anger that gives the album a genuine edge. Blue Rev is a quite wonderful return and proof positive of the old adage that good things come to those who wait. (www.alvvays.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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