Right now, there is an alternate universe where a demon kindly asks me to create an indie film in order to prevent the demise of the planet. Naturally, I’d want a soundtrack to go with the motions. Alvvays’s self-titled debut does its best to fit into the aesthetic of the struggles of adolescence and young adulthood, also finding a way to be a flavour-of-the-week record that long outstays its welcome.
Alvvays feels like one tryst after another, appealing to the kindling emotions that daydreamers and lovers face as they deal with their tribulations. “Adult Diversion”, the first track of the record, tells the story of yearning love; the kind TTC passengers feel when they write their own mental missed connections, even to those they’ve hopelessly crushed on for months. It’s teenage awkwardness that adults still keep stumbling over. Yet we still can’t help but love it, especially as it transitions with the chirping of birds in the next track (and first single), “Archie, Marry Me”. Complete with a music video filled with lo-fi everything, the track encompasses the themes of facing adulthood’s responsibilities, while still feeling the enjoyment of jumping into love. Perfectly ending with a cheerleader-like love letter, this single is one to be loved by those just wanting to fly into summer, crossing the barrier of the unknown without noticing that they’ve hit several Do not cross reels of tape.
The rocket ship of human nature can’t just run on dreams, which is why “Ones Who Love You” feels slower, not because it’s a lifeless song. More so, it deals with reflection of where the protagonist feels they are. “Next of Kin” feels like it should be on the album, but, truthfully, “Ones Who Love You” fills the space that “Next of Kin” overflows, with the latter track being more like filler, not adding to the album rhythmically. “Party Police” however, feels so rebellious that it can get away with murder. The chorus, with the guitar’s tone fusing with the passion of Molly Rankin’s vocals adds to this idea of a getaway. Comfort and debauchery abounds! The desperate and moody notes add to this theme that our daydreams are fallacious.
There’s always been this feeling that Molly writes songs with a dictionary in hand, utilizing words like “toxicology” and “sobriety” in ways that aren’t cringe-worthy (‘The Agency Group’). Still feeling simple in its dread, like the vast landscape of this record, it does its duty in feeling like a summer record, while touching other seasons, too.
Obviously this Toronto-based band would have to look upon the active blue skies when they write songs in this cold country, which is probably why “Dives” feels like either falling from the sky or walking through a snowy street. Kind of reminded me of the ending to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to be honest. “Atop a Cake” feels joyous, touching on the flowery “Marry Me, Archie”, except feeling like an argument, with backing vocals layering the almost sarcastic instrumentals. The closer, “Red Planet”, finds our indie film protagonist in a space suit, floating along a synthy backdrop of stars and memories. Tryst after tryst culminates into this: the still pattern of drums, talk of seminars, a dark sky, and imperfect memories.
Alvvays takes our daydreams and turns them into an album, not being overly complicated, but still retaining flaws by being simplistic and not original. That said, the band’s debut does two things well: it satisfies a demon from a parallel universe, while still bringing us a kind poke of reflection.
Dustin Ragucos is a writer of things fictional, poetic, and musical. His main loves include Death Grips and Indie music. Dustin’s blog is host to a weekly blurb about albums old and new.