Indie rock, indie pop, jingle jangle pop, or whatever you want to call it, is a genre I am generally rather critical of; Despite how excellent it can be when its done well (The Smiths being the optimum example), I feel that bands (mainly new bands) can sometimes be a bit half-arsed with their approach, whether it be their lyrics, arrangements, melodies, hooks, vocals or production; many indie pop bands tend not to be able to deliver a solid record. Step in Alvvays, a Canadian outfit whom have received immense critical acclaim with their prior singles 'Adult Diversion' and, more notably, the brilliant 'Archie, Marry Me'. With the internet swooning over their glistening indie pop, the band have exploded out of buzz-band status with an impressive debut.
Judging by the calibre of the material we were treated to prior to its release as well as the fact that it is merely 9 tracks long; Alvvays was intended to be an all killer, no filler affair. And that it certainly is. Every single track on here is strong and memorable in its own right; even the lesser tracks are brilliant in their own way. 'Adult Diversion' kicks off the album with a blast of sun-drenched guitar hooks, before frontwoman Molly Rankin's sugary sweet vocals elevate the dynamic hooks further. This is preceded by 'Archie, Marry Me' (arguably my song of the summer) which, despite the heavy reverb on this track, never feels disconnected and is easily one of the most engaging slices of pop I have had the pleasure of hearing in a long while. 'Next Of Kin' provides a toe-tapping moment which feels ideal for a day frolicking around at the beach (which is kind of ironic as its about drowning).
Now at this point you may be thinking: "Yeah, yeah. But what (if anything) makes this particular record any different from the multitude of indie pop albums which are generally warmly received and then swiftly forgotten?". Well, Alvvays just has a lot more depth than your average indie pop record, not only do the melancholic lyrics juxtapose nicely with the campfire aesthetic, but instrumentally it is rather complex at times. For example, the 20 second outro of 'Party Police' or what I describe as an insanely pretty spiraling manifestation of synth which is easily the most intense moment on an otherwise joyous and breezy record. Despite its breeziness, this is also a dense and layered record, this being exhibited through its use of psychedelic guitar-led soundscapes on tracks such as 'Ones Who Love You' as well as the lyrics, which, in terms of delivery are very Morrissey at times (though, to Rankin's credit, far less pretentious).
Whilst many debuts tend to blend into a host of other sub-Parr albums before fading into obscurity a few years (or even months) later, I feel that this won't be the case with Alvvays. Even though it's clear that Alvvays are influenced by bands such as The Smiths, The Vaselines and Teenage Fanclub, they pay homage to them through crafting songs that are often on their level of greatness. This is not only true for the excellent pre-release singles, but for many of the other album tracks also, primarily 'Next Of Kin' and 'Party Police'. Their brand of jingle-jangle pop evokes all the happiness that makes the genre so great whilst adding more dimensions through their melancholic moments of lyrical genius. In summery, this record won't change the world but it certainly makes mine a little happier, and therefore better.
Best Tracks: Adult Diversion, Archie, Marry Me, Next Of Kin, Party Police, Atop a Cake