Album Review: Alvvays, 'Alvvays'

"When every day's a hurricane, you know there's something wrong," sings Alvvays' Molly Rankin on the wistful comedown "Party Police." The Toronto indie-rock quintet certainly isn't afraid to embrace rain-streaked melodies and melancholy musings on love and other intoxicants. But the band's jangly guitars and power snares, reminiscent of NME's seminal cassette compilation C86, lend its full-length debut a sunny disposition perfect for summer release.

Alvvays cross-pollinates Bethany Cosentino's sun-sick brooding with the breezy 1950s rock throwbacks of Scottish romantics Camera Obscura. Even the disaffected croon of Rankin - who's descended from Canadian folk royalty The Rankin Family, a three-decade-strong Celtic band - floats on the same current as Obscura singer Tracyanne Campbell.

Like both that group and Cosentino's Best Coast, Alvvays balances musical froth with lyrical darkness and vice versa. "The Agency Group" segues from an ominous drone to dripping notes that obscure the humor in "a case of sobriety shortcomings." "Next of Kin" shimmers with riffs so carefree it's easy to miss the line about "taking something" to "suppress the things that make you feel uptight." And Rankin's elopement fantasy on "Archie, Marry Me" - the album's most unapologetically buoyant track, featuring chirping birds and a soaring chorus - gets a case of cold feet on the panic-stricken "Atop a Cake."

Rankin's eye for double meanings in failed relationships, sugarcoated with ­jangle-pop's spirited arrangements, makes Alvvays worth revisiting - rain or shine.


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