Homecoming Artist Profile: Alvvays
Homecoming is quickly approaching! With a great lineup like this, tickets are sure to sell fast. But if you aren't familiar with the acts taking the stage at Smale Riverfront Park, don't worry: Sam Banasek has you covered. Here's his Artist Profile!
Alvvays is the special kind of band that writes songs equally suited to toe tapping and gazing longingly out a window. The Nova Scotian indie pop five piece has been honing their specific brand of happy-sadness for the better part of the decade, and come to Homecoming prepared to bob heads and break hearts.
Though they have existed in one form or another for quite a while, Alvvays is fresh off its second album. Their first offering, a self titled release from 2014 is a uniformly solid, if a little sparse album (nine songs, clocking in at just 33 minutes). Alvvays demonstrates that singer/songwriter Molly Rankin has the ability to inject a sense of romantic hopelessness into her work that is eminently relatable. Nowhere is this more evident that the album’s biggest hit “Archie, Marry Me,” a perfectly lovelorn indie ballad that one can imagine leading into the credits of an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Their follow up, last year’s Antisocialites, is everything that a sophomore release should be. Deeper, more confident, and more complex than the debut, Antisocialites earned every bit of the hype it received and marked Alvvays as an indie band to watch closely in the coming years.
Despite performing material that can be a bit of a downer, Alvvays puts on a live show that is, in a word, fun. Charming, funny and polite in a way that is downright Canadian, Rankin is an excellent if slightly unconventional frontwoman. The majority of Alvvays has been playing together since 2011 (dummer Sheridan Riley was added in 2016) and it shows. On stage, Alvvays is completely in sync, with tight harmonies and intersecting guitar riffs that elevate songwriting that is otherwise straightforward.
Though their songs are primarily clean, jangly guitar driven affairs, keyboardist Kerri MacLellan adds an interesting dimension to the bands sounds with her old school Korg synth stylings (listen for the ice cream truck melody in “Pimsoll Punks”). But, as with another Homecoming artist, the main attraction here is Rankin’s voice. A singer with no apparent upper limit on her range, Rankin starts high and somehow always manages to go higher. In the end it creates an effect that is both dreamy and moving.
Homecoming’s lineup is filled with artists that you won’t want to miss (a notion I feel like I'll be reiterating in every writeup). But, in the midst of artists that are moving and thought provoking and important, Alvvays will offer a welcome respite. Not because they are inconsequential, but because they wrap their heavy material in a package that is so appealing. Sometimes you just want music that you can nod along to, no matter how sad the words might be.
Start with: Archie, Marry Me, In Undertow, Adult Diversion
Additional Listening: Atop a Cake, Lollipop, Saved By a Waif