Canadian quintet Alvvays (pronounced "Always") burst out of the gates with their self-titled 2014 debut, a brief but bright collection of nine songs of nearly perfect, sugar-coated indie pop. The band call on inspiration from the jangly C-86 movement and bands like the Wedding Present or Talulah Gosh, but also lean on the fuzzy, homespun spirit of early American independent bedroom pop and twee while steeping their tunes in a languid dreaminess borrowed from Teenage Fanclub at their most wistful. The album opens with the one-two punch of "Adult Diversion" and "Archie, Marry Me," two single-worthy songs of noisy guitars, gloriously deadpan vocal harmonies, and sticky melodies cemented in the listener's skull by the interplay between guitar and singer Molly Rankin's cascading vocals. The album is full of highlights, from the synthy melancholia of "Party Police" to the Orange Juice-esque interweaving guitar lines of "Atop a Cake." While Alvvays relies on the same reverb-heavy production that an entire generation of beach-obsessed indie pop bands has tended toward, they surpass many of their peers by delivering more inspired songs, often with unexpected shifts or breakthrough moments. This debut surpasses simply being "promising" by delivering pop as beautifully composed as that of contemporaries like Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Veronica Falls, while also tying in sentiments of punk gusto, twee wonderment, and dream pop thoughtfulness without relying strictly on the musical blueprints of any of those genres. Instead, Alvvays find a way to articulate their heart-struck, dream-like songs with deft intention and control.
by Fred Thomas