Killer Klassix: ALVVAYS – “ALVVAYS”

ALVVAYS solidifies a strong introduction capitalizing on modernizing classic sounds and pushing the envelope in regards to conventional pop


Antonio Llanos, Staff Writer

What does a formal introduction look like? There is a smile involved, usually a hint of personality and some personal flavor to add a true essence of who the person might be. Add melody, lullaby-esque choruses, beach and pop-rock flare and you have a Canadian Indie pop band that quickly climbed the charts and received instant success with their initial release. 

“ALVVAYS” is the self-titled introductory album by the 5-piece Canadian band of the same name. Released on July 22, 2014 by Polyvinyl Records, the band attained both rapid commercial and underground success. The album capitalized on classic sounds reminiscent of the ‘60s beach rock era, but successfully modernized it enough with subtle bridges and pop-inspired chord variation. 

“Adult Diversion” is a beautiful start, solidifying a fun sound sprinkled throughout the album. The track begins with a bouncy drum groove, setting the tone for a playful, guitar-based micro melody and ensnaring the listener in the multiple, ongoing melodies that create a dynamic followed through for the rest of the track. Lyricist, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Molly Rankin’s voice perfectly elaborates upon the other pop-fused melodies that bounce the song from one chorus to another with her opening line, “How do I get close to you?/Even if you don’t notice/As I admire you on the subway.” Though sung in an innocent manner, attempting to rationalize seeking attention from someone who she is secretly interested in, Rankin’s lyrics are surprisingly accessible, relative not just in tone, but rich in vivid experience to the point that when she sings, the imagery is beautifully cascaded in the listener’s mind. 

“Archie, Marry Me” is a brilliant breakout hit not only for the album but for the band as well. While easily the most recognizable song from their repertoire, the song’s tender nature takes after two of the bandmates’ romantic interest in the conceptual years of the band. Rankin and lead guitarist Alec O’Hanley wrote the track after dating for a short amount of time in ALVVAYS conceptual years; however, the relationship was dissolved by Rankin’s growing disinterest and O’Hanley’s desire to marry. The mourning of the relationship is conveyed through the sullen guitars and slow pace of the track. In the first few lyrics, Rankin sings: “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 nighttime we go out and scour the streets for trouble.”

“Next of Kin” continues to wonderfully employ the same musical composition as “Adult Diversion,” but instead is led by a cute guitar melody that is carried through and varied throughout the song.  Melodically the track encapsulates a spirit of innocence explored through memories of her father through the dynamic established by Rankin and O’Hanley’s play style. The lyrical material compliments the melody and elevates the thematic nature of the track when sung like a lullaby: “The sun so hot, I saw his skin through his t-shirt/The grass so tall, we knew we wouldn’t be found/We climbed into the stream so no one would be heard/And in no time at all, there wasn’t a sound.” Rankin’s perspective shines through not just in imagery, but holds true through the melodic drifting that fog and buzz throughout her chorus, allowing the track to wonderfully unfold under the progression of melody.

“Party Police” is a powerfully relatable track about romantic loss. Rankin’s very somber introductory melody is a premonitory echo of what would be the choral melody. The lyrics echo perfectly as the track unfolds with the drums providing an emotionally charged heartbeat for the song to slowly come to a close. Once again, Rankin’s immersive lyrical composition paints a masterpiece as she sings the opening line: “Walking through the trees/I never really know what’s on your mind/Is it ever me, or just someone you’ve left behind?” “Party Police” further flourishes before the listener, aided by the melody of the song, 

“Atop A Cake” is a nonsensical track that ensnares the listener in a pop-rock melody that motors through to the end. Rankin’s lyrical retelling is about wandering about, driving around and contemplating the circumstances of youth. Rankin’s carefree nature is captured in the free-form melody that first is played through inverts and comes full circle by the chorus. The track finds a perfect balance of catchy, dance-esque melody and indy-sounding experimentation that is sure to intrigue long-time indie fans and new indie listeners.   

ALVVAYS solidifies a strong introduction capitalizing on modernizing classic sounds and pushing the envelope in regards to conventional pop.