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Alvvays singing the same tune

MOVE reviews “Alvvays”

By Kennedy Ward | July 25, 2014

Tags: Music Reviews

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“Sounds like Cults’ Madeline Follin’s voice over a Best Coast instrumental … knockoffs.”

That’s the very first thought I had while listening to “Adult Diversion,” the opening track from the self-titled debut from Toronto-based Alvvays. I dismissed the entire record before I even reached the track’s 30-second mark. Fortunately, I changed my mind almost as quickly as I dismissed the album. I caught myself nodding my head and tapping my feet to the beat before the end of the song.

“Not too bad…,” I thought.

As “Alvvays” progressed, I quickly recognized a pattern. The songs all start off with an engaging kick –– chippering birds, a questionable chord, etc. I imagined myself at a beach party with my best friends –– sunglasses down, feet up. Sadly, my initial enjoyment of the album quickly dissipated into disappointment and overall boredom. Almost everything about every song on “Alvvays” is predictable.

Despite the record’s boring consistency, “Alvvays” has two major standout tracks.

“Archie, Marry Me” is A-1 material as far as indie surf-pop-rock goes. Lead singer Molly Rankin manages to catch the listener’s attention while boldly sing-shouting, “Hey! Hey! Marry me, Aaaarchie!” It’s cute, catchy and uncomplicated.

However, “Red Planet” is the album’s true standout track. It shows Alvvays’s potential for originality by finally moving away from the whole “Cults thing” and getting a little sentimental and experimental. It slowly builds into an effortlessly catchy hook that finally allows the listener to appreciate Rankin’s girlishly cute voice sans excessively loud instruments. Once Rankin’s vocals can be heard, I began to appreciate the quirky simplicity of Alvvays.

The problem with the album is simple. Rankin repeatedly sings sickly sweet lyrics of love and youthful nostalgia, but fails to connect with the listener. I constantly felt like I’d heard one of their songs before. It’s not that the album is bad; it just lacks originality.

MOVE gives Alvvays’s “Alvvays” 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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