Alvvays - Alvvays

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7.5 Release Date:2014-07-21

Since most reviewers will probably have already fumbled over the typographical error in the name or question whether it’s Yiddish for 'never ending', I’ll dispense with the theatrics and cut right to the chase. This Toronto quintet’s debut is brimming with lo-fi (eg, tinny, crap-sounding drum kits), shimmering pop which harkens to the similarly bubbly debuts of Blondie, Saint Etienne, and any number of C-86 (and Elefant, to fast forward into the 21st century) bands we know and love so well.

Vocalist Molly Rankin (daughter of the late John Morris Rankin of the Juno Award-winning Rankin Family, arguably Canada’s finest country group) has the kind of cutesy, innocent voice which makes you want to wrap her up in your arms and take her home with you. The lads rightfully stay out of her way and let that voice control the show. It’s a little flat at times and she occasionally struggles with the high notes ('Archie, Marry Me', 'The Agency Group'), but it gets the job done and is an effective attention grabber.

Dreamy diversions like 'Ones Who Love You' provide respites from the pogo-inducing surroundings. I thought I heard a nice 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' guitar-line opening the wonderful, Camera Obscura-like 'Next of Kin'. I like Rankin and boyfriend (ex-Two Hour Traffic) Alec O'Hanley's guitar work throughout: cascading, bright and jangly, but the drum-kit sounds cheap and mixed a little too far up front, such that it competes with, rather than complements Rankin's vocals.

Still, 'Dives' sways and swoons like a ride on a perfect wave, 'Atop a Cake' sets the toes a-tappin' and the heart a-flutterin', and the album is mercifully free of cheesy keyboard and synth fillers. Heartbreaking closer 'Red Planet' features Rankin's finest vocal and is an encouraging sign that things will only get better. One of the year's most promising debuts.

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