Album Review: Alvvays – Antisocialites

By Marvin Dotiyal, Staff Writer
[Polyvinyl; 2017]
Rating: 6.5/10

Key Tracks: “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”, “Dreams Tonite”, “Forget About Life”

Toronto indie pop act Alvvays follow up their 2014 self-titled debut with Antisocialites, a dreamy merry-go-round of frontwoman Molly Rankin’s romantic wins and losses, as well as her quarter-life existential crisis. Antisocialites is an expansion to their established sound in their debut album, sharing stories through cute melodies and melancholy instrumentals with a help of dream pop, surf rock and jangle pop elements.

The album doesn’t start off with a bang—it rather eases you into Rankin’s world of tragic romance. “In Undertow”, the band’s first single, opens the album with Rankin slowly pouring her heart out for an inevitable end of a relationship. The song gradually builds up along with its lyrics, forming a light at the end of the tunnel: Rankin’s acceptance of letting bygones be bygones. As Rankin repeats, “There’s no turning back,” the chorus captures a sense of deep regret but a spark of hope to move on.

The overall mood remains the same in “Dreams Tonite”; nevertheless, the song is sad yet beautiful. This track shows Rankin’s ideals as a hopeless romantic and how she continues to be a dreamy lover despite her countless defeats. At the same time, however, she is self-aware of her state: “So morose for me; seeing ghosts of me; writing oaths to me / Is it so naive to wonder…” It’s a simple, relaxing song, but Rankin’s lyrics are more than just a catchy hook. The title of this album also derives from the lyrics in this song.

Things get a little brighter with uptempo tracks like “Plimson Punks” and “Your Type”, but they tone it down again with “Not My Baby” and “Hey”. But then they return with the poppiest and most enjoyable song on the album, “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”, a simply fun and adorable track. With witty lyrics about swooning head over heels over a first love, “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” presents a modernized bubblegum-pop vibe tinged with a feeling of nostalgia. Unlike most of their sadder songs, “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” flaunts Rankin’s quirky, endearing character through her lyrics.

After a few more ups and downs on Rankin’s dreamy merry-go-round of emotions, the album ends with Rankin looking at her life through an existential angle. “Forget About Life” describes a desolate feeling of wanting to leave everything behind and just let go for a night. The synth solo halfway through the song and Rankin’s resonating vocals will leave you with mixed feelings of poignancy and comfort, which is an obvious forte of Alvvays.

Antisocialites is Alvvays playing it safe while having fun with their sound. It’s not a far step from their debut album, but it’s an exceptional sophomore album packed with passionate and personal songs that will help find their future direction.

Listen here:

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