[Album Review] Alvvays- Antisocialites
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Release Date: September 8th, 2017
Label: Royal Mountain / Polyvinyl / Trangressive

Antisocialites is an ode to the art of songwriting. Where Alvvays’ self-titled record was an exercise in playing catchy songs with wild abandon, their sophomore record sees them hone in on and sharpen the things that make this band great. Simultaneously expanding what they can offer while synthesizing what already works, Antisocialites is the sound of a band hitting their stride.

Lyrically, the record is a soundtrack to youthful malaise. This is what makes this record a little darker, a little less optimistic than the first record – and Rankin’s deadpan delivery is truly perfect for these vignettes of failing relationships (“In Undertow” and “Not My Baby”), the self-righteousness of youthful convictions (“Plimsoll Punks”), and general aimlessness (“Hey”). The power in these songs is that they are pretty much universal – which is the magic of a great pop song – and Alvvays truly taps into this here. Going even further, the band dabbles in the fantastical (“Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”), which is a surrealist love song about Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and uses a jaunty garage pop song to tell a great story about an insufferable love interest getting kicked out of the Louvre on “Your Type”.

Musically, Alvvays might still be offering a mixture of surf-inflected jangle pop, but Antisocialites sees the band growing from 3+ years of honing their chops during a heavy touring schedule. They’ve grown musically, and I think most telling change is the use of Molly Rankin’s voice. She’s no longer kind of obscured under the reverb-heavy guitars, and her range is really showcased on songs like “Already Gone”, or on the sparsely intimate closer, “Forget about Life”.  They also sound tighter and more cohesive as a unit, integrating synthesizers (“Dreams Tonite”) and artful feedback (“Saved by a Waif”). The production is also clearer, and all these elements come together in a testament to their abilities as songwriters, making Antisocialites an impressive sophomore effort.