On Antisocialites, Alvvays effortlessly avoid the sophomore slump and come through with an album that expands on their sound whilst simultaneously maintaining their innocent and melancholy personality.
Alvvays are an indie rock band formed in Toronto back in 2011, with their sound often crossing into genres such as Jangle pop, Lo-Fi, Dream Pop, and even Shoegaze most notable on their latest album. The bands’ debut self-titled release back in 2014 turned a lot of heads both in critical reception and fans of this style of music. For a debut album consisting of 9 tracks, Alvvays created something that needed no real introduction. It was concise with virtually no filler and full of catchy melodies perfect for a summer road trip. This gave them somewhat of a cult following, all beyond eager to hear new material. Three years later, Alvvays released the first track off their new album and lead single ‘In Undertow’. Whilst this track still contained all the elements that made their debut so successful, such as the nostalgic filled lo-fi production and dreamy vocals, it also had a refreshed emphasis on shoegaze and intricacy in the instrumental. Still, it wouldn’t be accurate to label this as a shoegaze album, however this demonstrates how Alvvays have really come into their own and the direction taken on Antisocialites is one of a band that is flourishing and confident.
Following this is the catchy dream pop tune ‘Dreams Tonite’, a lonely ballad of sorts that depicts a broken relationship. Lines like ‘in florescent light / Antisocialites watch a wiltering flower’ along with the wistful vocal inflections make for an extremely indie combination, yet in the best possible way. If that isn’t your kind of indie however, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy the Smiths inspired guitar jangles on the third single ‘Plimsoll Punks’. A fun summery track that, quite like The Smiths, captures melancholy in a warm and light-hearted tone. It seems as if Alvvays put these 3 elements, shoegaze, dream pop, and jangle pop into a sweet flavoured melancholic mix that works well together in the form of an album. In doing so, Antisocialites sounds connected and an album rather than a random selection of tracks bunched together, yet the record features enough diversity to keep it fresh and interesting.
For example, the short and fast paced ‘Your Type’ which includes more energy than the typical Alvvays tune, that really connects and stays with the listener. Also, the track impressively showcases their trademark lo-fi sound to good effect. Or possibly the biggest highlight on the album ‘Lollipop (Ode to Jim)’ where the pace of the album doesn’t let up as it crashes into another racing song that takes many turns in pitch and direction almost like a manic car chase. Despite this, it could be argued that the bands attempt at experimenting more with their sound doesn’t always work perfectly on Antisocialites, for example, on the track ‘Already Gone’ that has a lot going for it with very sombre atmosphere, especially in the regretful lyrics, however is kind of ruined by the wails of guitar tuning that sits in the background. Or on the track ‘Hey’ which is by no means bad, just lacks that killer hook Alvvays are usually so good at delivering.
Finally, the album does end on a very fitting song ‘Forget About Life’ with the title saying all there needs to be said. It reflects the shy and introvert tone of the album perfectly with an emphasis on a reflective and dreamy atmosphere. Overall, Antisocialites is a joyous follow up to their self-titled debut with fantastic song writing with instrumentals that place the album as a perfect listen for anyone with the end of summer blues.