Blue Rev

Alvvays

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Blue Rev Review

by Tim Sendra

During a tumultuous five years between albums, Alvvays went through a bunch of stuff -- stolen demos, ruined gear, wholesale lineup changes -- but managed to come out the other end sounding as good, and maybe even better, than ever. 2022's Blue Rev takes the noisy jangle and melancholy melodies of previous albums and gives them a subtle glow up. Working with producer Shawn Everett, the group recorded quickly and the urgency shows in the jumped-up tempos and unruly guitars that dominate the album. Songs like "Pharmacist" and "Pressed" burst out of the speakers in a whirl of loud guitars, pounding drums, and palpable energy, "Pomeranian Spinster" sounds like a hit record, and "After the Earthquake" has the feel of a lost jangle pop classic from the '80s. Over the top of this refined racket, Molly Rankin's slightly more insistent vocals stake out a central role in the middle of the mix most of the time instead of being bathed in reverb and folded in like another sweet ingredient. Along with these rollicking noise pop gems the band make sure to dip into moody shoegaze ("Easy on Your Own?") and breathtaking dream pop ("Many Mirrors") territory with the same blend of sophisticated craft and emotional pull they display elsewhere. A handful of songs have the group stretching into new directions. The echoing, moody new wave ballad "Very Online Guy" takes all kind of liberties with the vocals and keys to stunning effect; the muted soft rock of "Tile by Tile" is odd enough to distinguish it from the hordes of other bands treading a similar path; "Bored in Bristol" is bouncy, slightly sad synth pop (with minimal synths) and "Fourth Figure" brings in all the synths to back Rankin on the album's dramatic denouement. On these tracks, and everywhere else, the three most important elements of making a great record all click into place perfectly: The songs are memorable and fun, the performances are inspired, and the production is varied and always interesting. The creation of Blue Rev may have been beset with trial and tribulation but the result is a heavenly indie pop hit guaranteed to make their already besotted fans fall even more head over heels in love with the band.

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