Wrapped in Nostalgia: Alvvays’ “Antisocialites”

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Robert Anasch

Allie Boyd, Staff Writer

Wrapped in nostalgia, a whole lot of jangly pop, and put through the distortion filter a couple of times, Alvvays’ sophomore album, “Antisocialites,” evokes the bright, yellow sun shining down on a colorful landscape with the happy-go-lucky feeling, yet still a feeling of being utterly confused and longing for more. This feeling is exactly what “Antisocialites” captures beyond measure. With cathartic lyrics, the talented band has created something that makes others feel less alone in their sorrows and confusion. Alvvays is simply a friendly hand on your shoulder helping you through your troubles. 

Born in the heart of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Molly Rankin, the lead singer and guitarist of Alvvays, grew up with musical influences all around her. Rankin and her neighbor Kerri MacLennan, who is Alvvays’ keyboardist, would write music together whenever they got the chance. Rankin later met guitarist Alec O’Hanley at a concert when she was just a teenager. O’Hanley and Rankin became friends, and O’Hanley ended up helping Rankin with releasing a solo EP entitled “She” in 2010. Alvvays was formed later the following year, with O’Hanley assembling Phil MacIsaac and bassist Brian Murphy, and Rankin recruiting MacLennan. Rankin picked the name Alvvays because she liked that it had a “shred of sentiment and nostalgia.” The spelling was changed due to the fact that there was already a band named Always signed to Sony. The band toured extensively as supporting acts for bands such as Peter Bjorn and John and The Decemberists. While staying in Calgary with Chad VanGaalen, another musician and artist, Alvvays recorded their debut album in March 2013. Graham Walsh, who is part of another Canadian band, helped track the album while John Agnello, a music producer, helped mix it. The album became well liked very quickly, reaching number one on the U.S College charts on August 5, 2014. Single “Archie, Marry Me” became a huge success and a fan favorite from the album. 

In 2015, Alvvays began recording their second album. Many fans waited patiently as they expected the best of the best, and that’s exactly what they got. “Antisocialites” was released on September 8th, 2017, and went on to win a Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year. Each song on “Antisocialites” seems to tell a story, teach lessons, and have a deeper meaning than just being a catchy song for people to listen to. For example, in the song “Saved by a Waif,” Rankin sings, “Say something, waste something / Change your life /Take something, break something / Make your flight.” The whole song seems to be directed towards a child (which is what a waif is). The lyrics go much deeper telling the child to try new things while they are still young. With the lyrics saying things like “make your flight” and “break something,” Alvvays wants the listener to understand that you should make mistakes and take chances in life. 

Alvvays’ “Antisocialites” radiates a feeling of figuring out life step by step. Each song on the track makes you want to drive with the windows rolled down to no destination. With tongue-in-cheek lyrics mixed with danceable guitar riffs, Alvvays created an unbelievable album that will always be a jangly pop classic.