Alvvays – Antisocialites

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

It seemed like every time Alvvays toured near me, it was as part of some festival that I was not interested in. I *finally* got to see them in 2022 as they promoted their third album (and even then, the way the venue carved up the audience space to prevent underage drinking at this all-ages show diminished my experience). It felt like a long overdue event for me, and I was pleased to see such a large and youthful crowd, and I hope Alvvays has a nice, long career.

What I Think of This Album

Antisocialites is a huge step forward for Alvvays, even as it lacks an “Archie, Marry Me” (which, let’s face it, they will probably never equal). The songwriting is more consistent, the playing is more confident (aided by cleaner production), and the arrangements are more robust.

Gauzy and twirling, “In Undertow” finds the sweet spot between dream-pop and jangle-pop, with some subtle guitar feedback woven in as well. Ballad “Dreams Tonight” is a gorgeous new wave standout. The melancholy continues with arpeggiated “Not My Baby” (complete with girl group motorcycle sound effects), which rides an insistent bass part. “Already Gone” is another weepy but thoroughly affecting number. 

The band rocks out more on this album than on the debut, too. “Plimsoll Punks” is appealingly up-tempo and snotty, with some appropriately thick guitar tones, while lovelorn “Your Type” is propelled by some enthusiastic drumming and Molly Rankin’s elastic voice. None other than the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid is namechecked on the driving, pounding “Lollipop (Ode to Jim), a bizarre bit of fanfic that involves taking LSD and on which Rankin does some neat vocal tricks. 

Matrimonial organ introduces the hilariously titled “Saved By a Waif,” which relies on a muscular guitar and bass, as well as some welcome keyboard lines. “Hey” sounds decidedly European, approaching something danceable while also being spiky and unapproachable. Meanwhile, closer “Forget About Life” is as inviting a plea for companionship and connection as you will ever hear. And I love the (fake, probably) tape manipulation at the end as everything goes out of key for a bit (a la Teenage Fanclub’s “Star Sign”).

Drummer Phil MacIsaac had left by the time the album was recorded. Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub sings and plays the glockenspiel (fuck yes!) but it is unclear on which track(s).

The Best Thing About This Album

While “Forget About Life” is stunning, I give the nod to “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” in part because it rocks and in part because the band was comfortable enough to get a little weird with it.

Release Date

September, 2017

The Cover Art

Welp, another shitty album cover from Alvvays.

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