Alvvays
Antisocialites
Sep 8, 2017

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BEST OF 2017 LISTS
  • #1 Exclaim! (Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums)
  • #2 PopMatters (The Best Indie Pop of 2017)
  • #7 Paste (The 50 Best Albums of 2017)
  • #17 NME (Albums of The Year 2017)
  • #31 Stereogum (The 50 Best Albums Of 2017)
  • #55 Drowned in Sound (Favourite Albums of 2017)

Across Antisocialites' 10 tracks and 33 minutes the Toronto-based group dive back into the deep end of reckless romance and altered dates. Through thoughtful consideration in basement and abroad, Alvvays has renewed its Scot-pop vows with a powerful new collection of manic emotional collage.

The album opens with the excellent strum-’n-thrummer ‘In Undertow,’ a hi-amp breakup fantasy that is both crushing and charming for its level-headedness. "You find a wave and try to hold on for as long as you can, you made a mistake you'd like to erase and I understand," sings Rankin, her voice full longing not for another person necessarily, but for what to do next. "Meditate, play solitaire, take up self-defense," Molly continues, laundry-listing some strategies for moving on. "What's next for you and me? I'll take suggestions," she deadpans under crashing waves of feedback and Farfisa.

Replete with more songs about drinking (‘Forget About Life,’ ‘Hey’), drugging (‘Lollipop (Ode To Jim)’), and drowning (‘Already Gone’), Antisocialites is a multipolar period piece fueled by isolation and loss. Perversely enjoyable dark drama springs from Rankin’s phonetic twists, quick-sung rhymes and irreverent syllable-play. “So morose for me, seeing ghosts of me, writing oaths to me,” the self-described introvert sings on the Cocteau-pop stunner ‘Dreams Tonite,’ the song from which the album’s name is derived. “In fluorescent light, antisocialites watch a wilting flower.”

To write Antisocialites, Rankin traveled to Toronto Island -- working in an abandoned classroom by day and sleeping a few feet from shore at night -- to avoid a stifling heat wave in the city. “I carried a small PA on the ferry in a wheelbarrow,” she recalls. “Every morning I would listen to my favorite records on the beach, then I’d write melodies and record demos in the classroom.” After tracking with keyboardist Kerri MacLellan and bassist Brian Murphy at Kingsize in LA, Rankin and guitarist Alec O’Hanley continued recording and mixing in their Toronto basement. A few friends descended to play on the record, including Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake.

Antisocialites details a world of ice cream truck jingles and radiophonic workshop noise, where Rankin's shining wit is refracted through crystalline counterpoint. ‘Not My Baby’ is a centerpiece, a meditation on the rapture of escape following the sadness of separation. Elsewhere, ‘Plimsoll Punks’ is the band’s answer to Television Personalities’ ‘Part-Time Punks’ and a winking surf opus indictment of the self-righteous who intend to condescend. Molly wrote the rapid-fire sugar stream ‘Lollipop (Ode to Jim)’ after singing ‘Just Like Honey’ with Jesus and Mary Chain. ‘Your Type’ is a beautiful primitive stomp about running around Paris with vomit on your feet post-Louvre ejection.

The record concludes with a movement that is at once stark and celebratory. On ‘Forget About Life,’ the apartment stands in disarray as undrinkable wine is inhaled: “When the failures of the past multiply and you trivialize the things that keep your hand from mine, did you want to forget about life with me tonite?” The resonant freaks in Rankin’s tales don’t find much resolve, but with equal doses of black humor and heartstring-tugging, Antisocialites rings a truer tone.

Songs

  • 1
    In Undertow (3:17)
  • 2
    Dreams Tonite (3:16)
  • 3
    Plimsoll Punks (4:50)
  • 4
    Your Type (2:04)
  • 5
    Not My Baby (4:16)
  • 6
    Hey (2:49)
  • 7
    Lollipop (Ode To Jim) (3:18)
  • 8
    Already Gone (3:04)
  • 9
    Saved By A Waif (2:59)
  • 10
    Forget About Life (2:43)

Reviews

"The second album from the Toronto indie pop band is nothing but thoroughly accomplished songs. Alvvays have sharpened their focus without losing sight of themselves."

Pitchfork

"Full of fuzzy-guitar beauty and shoegazing romanticism."

Rolling Stone

“Molly Rankin turns this heartbreak narrative into dreamy, energetic, fuzz-pop songs about moving forward after being in chaotic relationships."

Billboard

"Antisocialites is a recipe for the true believers."

SPIN

"Rather than clashing, those two halves--one romantic and aspirational, one blunt and realistic--sharpen each other and create an album that delivers, and then some, on the promise of the band’s self-titled debut."

A.V. Club

“As bright and charming as everything we’ve come to expect from the band."

Consequence of Sound

“…Alvvays never second-guess their core strength: anthemic, arm-swaying hooks that aim for the stars even when the sky is gray.”

Pitchfork

"Shellacking a tight pop number in feedback is a worn recipe for success, but in the hands of Molly Rankin, Alvvays' noisy rock is an unexpected gift."

New York Magazine

"Impossibly bright, effects-heavy guitar lines swirl around Molly Rankin’s breathy and beautiful vocals, combining to create an intoxicating whole."

Paste

"The Toronto band Alvvays are extremely good at making ’90s-style shimmer-sigh indie-pop, and their new album Antisocialites might be even better than their 2014 self-titled debut."

Stereogum

"For all the noisy textures and shimmering sing-alongs on Antisocialites, Alvvays seem intent on masking pain while convincing others, and perhaps themselves, that everything's fine. It's a tricky balancing act, but that's what makes this band so damn endearing."

NPR

"A record that begs to be blasted on road trips and at rooftop parties. Alvvays was a mid-June perfect summer day; Antisocialites is a little cloudier, with a bit of a cold breeze blowing through."

Paste Magazine

"Antisocialites manages the rare feat of a band topping their brilliant debut with a sophomore effort that's even more brilliant."

All Music

"Punchy, catchy songs — but there’s a light nocturnal sheen across it. It’s often more shimmery and glossier than the band’s first record, sounding like the bleed of blue tones and blurred lights on solo walks through the city at who knows what hour."

Stereogum

"On Antisocialites, the band's interplay has never been stronger: listen to how Rankin's tactile buzzy strums interlock with O'Hanley's vibrant pling of arpeggios; or how MacLellan's analog pads and glitzy hooks bloom into cascading crescendos."

NPR

"The band has kept their rivers of reverb, which sometimes makes them sound as though they're playing to an empty middle-school gymnasium, an image that fittingly blends sweetness with melancholy."

Vulture

"The songs — still in jangly, fuzzy powerpop mode — are stronger, the playing more assured, and the production has just the right level of spiff and shine without ever being slick or syrupy."

Brooklyn Vegan

"Lead single "In Undertow" contains all of the elements that were initially so charming about the Toronto five-piece blown up to fuzzy and dreamy new heights."

Stereogum

"It's a heart-swelling three minutes, and further proof that the band's sophomore LP could be one of the fall season's best."

Consequence of Sound on "Dreams Tonite"

"The great thing about Alvvays is that they know what they do well - create objectively good, beautiful indie pop - and they are evidently doing it again with Antisocialites."

Uproxx

"More lovelorn sun-spotted jangly jams done in only the charming way the Toronto quartet know how."

My Old Kentucky Blog
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Videos

  • In Undertow (3:31)
    Joe Garrity
  • Dreams Tonite (3:28)
    Matt Johnson