One of the best albums of 2014, the self-titled debut by Canadian five-piece Indie-rock band Alvvays. An end of the year track by track review…
1. Adult Diversion. A sliding bass and drums introduces this carefully crafted gem, quickly followed by shimmering guitar then singer Molly Rankin’s opening line ‘How do I get close to you…?’ There are so many clever goings-on in this song, short guitar tricks, drum rolls, there is something new in every listen.
2. Archie, Marry Me. Distant bird song, a simple guitar figure hanging in the air and we are into the best-known track on the album. The lyric is open to interpretation but the title/hook line is very strong. Underneath the band blend guitar and some solid keyboard into a perfect pop single, hopefully destined to be played as the couple walk down the aisle at alternative weddings…
3. Ones Who Love You. The opening song when I saw the band live, this is a grower. Deep keyboards to the fore, under lots of constant and non-repeating guitar lines. Molly’s voice with echo, dreamy and restrained in the mix,’When the wheels come off, I’ll be an astronaut, I’ll be lost in space…’
4. Next of Kin. Another brilliant single from the album, on the surface the unusual ‘controversial’ subject matter is warning against taking drugs before swimming…. When Molly sings ‘I left my love in the river’, never has a song about accidental drowning sounded so good. It is all sung over a busy background of jaunty guitar, driven along like a classic Blondie song. ‘No colour to his skin, inform the next of kin’, a dire warning indeed…
5. Party Police. A change of tempo, slabs of keyboard underpin a plaintive and at times desperate lyric about an unbalanced relationship. Or is it?
6. The Agency Group. Another mid-tempo song, another ambiguous relationship. It is a strong melody with a lovely hook line ‘When you whisper you don’t think of me that way, when I mention you don’t mean that much to me…’
7. Dives. An intriguing lyric over an immersive electronic sound with chiming guitar make this one of the more experimental tracks, with rewards each time you hear it.
8. Atop a Cake. This song forms a nice triptych with the opening two tracks, a pure confection of quick moving summer guitar pop, but again with the dark lyrical undertone of relationship difficulties.
9. Red Planet. A surprise closing song with electronic instrumental sound only, the haunting vocal performance and impressionistic lyrics drift into your consciousness and stay there.
As does the rest of the album..