ALVVAYS – S/T review

ALVVAYSS/T

http://alvvays.com/

This band seems to embody many of the current trends in indie rock. For starters, they are a female-fronted band. Indie rock has went from being dominated by male bands like Modest Mouse, Pavement, Built to Spill, Death Cab, Bright Eyes, and Neutral Milk Hotel to having an almost even split of guys and girls today. Some of the top indie acts in the world are Chvrches, Haim, Grimes, and Best Coast, all of whom are fronted by women. Indie rock has a strong anti-macho tradition. Hair metal bands of the 80s blasted misogynist songs about what they were going to do to women, whether they liked it or not, combined with self-indulgent guitar solos. Bands like Soundgarden came along and mocked this attitude with songs like Big Dumb Sex. Indie rock thus has a less “locker-room” atmosphere. Still, women have fought an uphill battle to be get a place at the table in indie rock. Meredith Graves, a prominent indie/punk rocker, has often wrote about not being taken seriously by other male musicians and others in the music industry because she is female. The rise of bands like ALVVAYS is a good sign that these attitudes are changing somewhat.

They also have a strong “pop” sensibility about them. The songs are catchy, but they don’t come off as manufactured like some other “indie” bands like Bastille or Grouplove. You can still hear enough touches of experimentalism to qualify this as a true indie record with a pop sheen added. In today’s indie rock, the grumpy record store clerk raging against “mainstream” music has been replaced by “Poptimists” who embrace mainstream sounds. Hating on major-label music now paints you as an out-of-touch geezer. I could definitely imagine this record getting played on mainstream rock stations if it catches on.

The last trend is their name. All the good names have apparently been taken, so they have to resort to using odd letters to make the band’s name. They join Chvrches, Wavves, DIIV, Swimm, and Splashh in the quest to make it possible to be found in a search engine.

The highlight of the album comes from track 2 Archie, Marry Me (Arrested Development or All In The Family reference? You decide). Its a soaring ballad directed at a guy (Archie) who is dragging his feet about getting married. The chorus is very catchy, and I could imagine festival crowds singing along with glee. Adult Diversions is another good one that reminds me of the band Tennis. The drumming is very subtle on this record, giving it a lo-fi sound combined with the subdued vocals of frontwoman Molly Rankin. Rankin soars at places, but thankfully doesn’t cross over into Christina Aguilera territory. The guitars are sweet and jangly in a Real Estate good sort of way. All in all, if you like indie pop you will adore this record. I give it a 7/10.

Caleb Minnick