Alvvays’ second album Antisocialites is an absolute success

AntisocialitesFollowing a successful debut is always a tricky proposition. From The Stone Roses to more recent examples in Bloc Party and The xx, there’s a whole mythology of bands phoning in disappointing second albums. The backbreaking nature of the music industry is often the one to blame - keep away from the spotlight for three years and who knows what will become of you. New bands are often forced to fall into a downward spiral of touring and promoting their record, leaving little to no time for thinking things through and letting their ideas for new music breathe for a while. Luckily for us, Alvvays are here to break the wheel.

Back in 2014, Alvvays burst onto the scene with their debut album. As their diehard fanbase grew larger every day, the band soon gained cult status. During the following two years, they never really stopped touring. But even when promoting their debut, Alvvays were already thinking ahead and including a few raw, unreleased songs in their live sets. Flash forward to summer 2017, when the Canadian band fronted by Molly Rankin announced their second album, Antisocialites. In a way, the follow-up to this record has been endearingly old school. A large majority of the songs comprising it had been live staples for years, giving fans the time to grow familiar with the band’s new material. They would trade cheap audience recordings of the new songs and speculate whether “New Haircut” (now titled “Saved By A Waif”) or “Your Type” would make the album, just like in the early aughts when Radiohead or Weezer debuted new songs years before giving them official releases.

As for the music itself, Antisocialites is as good as its predecessor, if not better. While there might not be something as immediately catchy as “Archie, Marry Me” in it, Alvvays’ sophomore album is brimming with joyful melodies that waft across eclectic sonic landscapes. It might be a bit less jangly than their debut, instead leaning on lovely electronic flourishes – see their naïve tribute to twee pop “Dreams Tonight” or the droney album closer “Forget About Life”. Opener “In Undertow” is arguably the best song Rankin’s ever written, a heartfelt break-up anthem fuelled by her echo-y vocals and distorted guitar tangles.


Antisocialites is basically an indie pop encyclopedia. Just see how the Mazzy Star-ish acoustic warmth of “Already Gone” is immediately followed by the high-energy “Saved By A Waif”, which could’ve been taken straight out of a Pastels record. But the absolute highlight here is “Not My Baby”, a bittersweet post break-up song where Rankin's hopeful lyrics stand in opposition to her warm vocals and mournful melodies. At its emotional peak, she sings “I feel alive for the first time / Since I don’t know how long” over the song’s final chorus, bringing optimistic closure to an otherwise heartbreaking episode. In a way, it feels like a restrained re-enactment of Jenny Lewis’ triumphant howl at the end of Rilo Kiley’s “Silver Lining”. Both songs are intense reminders that lightness can also be found in the darkest places.

Going back to Antisocialites, the whole thing is just an incredibly well-constructed collection of indie pop songs. Alvvays know their craft and are bound to end up being part of the same musical canon they capitalise on. They’ve reached a point where even their less compelling tracks are still worth revisiting a few times. “Plimsoll Punks” might be C86 pop by numbers but it’s not without its charm and it’s got killer guitar parts. The same thing could be said about “Hey”, a more bass-driven take on the band’s signature sound. The long wait has come to an end; Alvvays’ second album is here and it is an absolute success. As delightfully tuneful as their debut and adventurous enough to have even more staying power, Antisocialites is a perfect example of what a sophomore record should be.

Release: 8th September 2017, Polyvinyl Recording Company


One Response to “Alvvays’ second album Antisocialites is an absolute success”


  1. Alvvays’ second album Antisocialites is an absolute success – Live List - 13/09/2017

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