Alvvays ' sophomore album, Antisocialites, captures a sense of growing up, and heartbreak is a part of that.Polyvinyl, 2017
7.5 / 10
Love is in the air on Alvvays‘ sophomore album, Antisocialites. But then, it quickly evaporates. Frontwoman Molly Rankin’s focus on heartbreak this go around will surely speak to all listeners. She captures the pain, anger, and readiness to move on that comes with a break-up. Still, the Toronto band’s follow-up to their excellent self-titled debut retains their music’s nostalgic innocence. You’ll hear parts of Camera Obscura and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Nothing ever truly shatters the soul with grief or a somber tone. Rather, the music just captures a sense of growing up, and heartbreak is a part of that.
The album leads off with “In Undertow”. Although the band performs it with a dreamy disposition, it’s actually a brutal observation on a wincing breakup. Here, Molly Rankin acknowledges an incident in the relationship, “You made a mistake you’d like to erase and I understand.” But she follows it up with, “‘What’s left for you and me?’/ I ask that question rhetorically.” That’s as much a “fuck you” that you can give while also being nice. But isn’t nice what we expect from this band? They do manage a more aggressive turn on “Plimsoll Punks”. It contrasts their pretty arrangements with crunchier riffs and a snarling vocal turn from Rankin. Still, it’s nothing that will jolt you.
The biggest jolts come from the lyrics. If you thought “In Undertow” was somewhat mean, perhaps “Your Type” is even meaner. Here, Rankin explains to a would be suitor as to why she would never be his type. It retains some of the crunchy guitars from “Plimsoll Punks”; though, the snarl is gone from Rankin’s vocals. She sings, “I die on the inside every time/ You will never be alright/ I will never be your type.” Ouch! That stings!
Although immature guys won’t get any attention, the ones that do don’t intend to live up to Rankin’s expectations. “Dreams Tonite” is about a relationship that essentially goes nowhere. Still, Rankin wonders if a chance encounter with this person would stir up old feelings. “If I saw you on the street, would I have you in my dreams tonight?” We’ve all been in her shoes, and that’s the strength to Alvvays’ songs. They capture our youth perfectly.