Alvvays has found the formula for trippy-hippy bliss, and it’s stunning. Their new self-titled album takes you to an entirely different place, and for some reason I feel like there are milkshakes and handwritten postcards there. Alvvays is messy and sweet, and almost sounds more 60s than the 60s.
The short 9-track album is a little dose of something that is hard to explain but easy to feel. Lead vocalist Molly Rankin presents charming, paper-flat vocals that are perfectly out of time with drummer Phil MacIsaac. Every word she murmurs folds in on itself like Origami, coasting over a fuzzy, jangly mix that was quite likely recorded with two tin cans and a piece of string. The misty instrumentals beneath her are courtesy of keyboardist Kerri MacLellan, guitarist Alec O’Hanley, and bass guitarist Brian Murphy. The group builds an atmosphere that is so soft and cozy it may as well be a pillow fort.
It’s all so relaxed that the F-bomb almost breezes right past you in “Ones Who Love You,” and you barely pick up on the fact that she may have intentionally let her boyfriend drown in “Next of Kin.” Surprise! It’s not all sunshine and lollipops in Alvvays. But you hardly even catch it with all the flowery good vibes, and that makes the album even cooler.
“Archie, Marry Me” is a definite standout, a proposal that contrasts its crushy, dreamy sound with startlingly pragmatic lyrics. “You’ve expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony / You’ve student loans to pay and will not risk the alimony / We spend our days locked in a room content inside a bubble / and in the night time we go out and scour the streets for trouble.”
The whole album is such a gem, and I cannot wait to hear more from this band. They take you by the hand and lead you back in time, but stay fresh and original the whole way there. It’s hard to pin down, but Alvvays is sort of like using matches instead of a lighter, or taking a bubble bath instead of a shower. It just feels good.