Alvvays’s Antisocialites is a Melancholy Summer Dreamscape
Written by Molly Alexander
In 2014 we were graced by an album that would become a quintessential record for indie daydreamers and pop fueled hipsters alike. It was the self titled debut of Alvvays, a Canadian quintet of sandy guitar riffs kissed by the melodic vocals of Molly Rankin. They redefined the indie music scene with quirky yet thought provoking lyrics of searching for modern love in a world of millennial struggles. The album birthed such hits as “Archie, Marry me” and “Adult Diversion”. It wove personal narrative, ethereal vocals, and nostalgic instrumentals together, leaving listeners eager for more.
After three years, Alvvays has reemerged with their long-awaited sophomore album, Antisocialites. Within it, they delve into a new melancholy dreamscape with more existential low points than before. We see a disintegration of the “Archie” romance and storyline from their debut as Alvvays jumps towards themes of introspection through an “antisocialite” lens. Alvvays redefines their pre-established sound by integrating more lo-fi elements and heavy synth tracks.
Before the official release of Antisocialites, listeners got a taste of the new album with three singles: “In Undertow”, “Dreams Tonite”, and “Plimsoll Punks”. In Undertow hooks the listener in and blankets them in with a catchy chorus of “there’s no turning back after what’s been said” and warming rhythms that parallel the calming of a once tumultuous relationship.
The second track, “Dreams Tonite" expands the uncertainty of the future and explores the “what if’s” of past relationships started with a mortal spark. This is one of the better balanced tracks on the album that reworks the band’s soft spoken melodies with instrumentals reminiscent of a slow dance at an 80’s prom. Rankin sings about what could have been “If I saw you on the streets/would I have you in my dreams tonite?” as the synthy backdrop flows to visuals of “wilting flowers”. The track fades out with the metaphorical ending of the narrative with the remnants of a ghostly rhythm absent of vocals.
Tracks like “Plimsoll Punks” and “Hey”, take crunchy and complex guitar riffs and distort the retro simplicity of Alvvays’s traditional sound. The tempo and lyrical intensity speeds up as the listener gets a sample of an unfamiliar thread of garage esque rock; songs you would likely find the crowd dancing to at a summer basement show.
Although Antisocialites sees Alvvays’s shifting both their sound and narrative, it does not fail to serve the familiar taste of nostalgia and pop that listeners fell in love with. While Alvvays did lose a bit of the youthful magic from their debut they replaced it with a more matured sense of magnetism. Whether you listen to rock, indie, 80’s revival, or anything in between; Antisocialites has the potential to draw in a much wider audience for years to come.