by Kara Kokinos
[three_fourth]The genre-adverse Alvvays are back with the same relaxed yet surprisingly articulate vibes their 2014 self-titled tipped its toe into. There’s much more polish to this album; what used to be a duel has been slightly reined in to let vocalist Molly Rankin’s voice float effortlessly towards the front of the rest of the mix, with her harmonies resting above. You still even get slightly more of that rock influence coming through on the track ‘Plimsoll Punks.’ It’s a deceivingly complex album that takes a subdued yet highly functional and polished approach to what is often taken in a much punchier direction. The entire mix blends so well within itself that you’re bound to get hidden details in every track even if you lose a little of the extremes with that level of self-monitoring.
That detail might be where they somewhat lost me on this one – I’m not gonna knock the prowess that the band clearly possesses, but there is a slight lack of character to Antisocialites. I have a fantastic time while the album plays – there really isn’t another band creating such a cohesive and genre-incorporating sound – but it misses the mark in any storytelling fashion. Rankin’s vocals are absolutely wonderful and situationally perfect, and there is no contesting her creativity with them. Take a long sit down with ‘Lollipop’ for some really cool vocal effects that sell the entire song. That said, I’m not quite sold on her as a narrator. The album’s a pretty easy sing-along, but if anything, you get more from the rhythmic choices made with her wordplay than the words themselves – with ‘Hey’ providing a pretty intense dose of that.
I’m sold on Alvvays’ talent and ability to craft music – that was never really called into question – but was still left wanting more post-Antisocialites. Perhaps their live show will zap energy into an outfit that clearly has it in spades, but you lose a bit of on this album.
Listen to Antisocialites here: