Your Inner Child is Hungry
At first listen (and for the first few songs), Canadian indie band Alvvays comes off as a band that has checked off all the boxes that popular indie acts currently have, but doesn’t really have a lot more on top of that. Dreamy synths? Check. Lyrics and song titles that sound nostalgic and like a teeny-bopper collage come to life? Check. Sing-song Lauren Mayberry singer to cap off all this nostalgia with an adorable face? Check. Crying, Frankie Cosmos, CHVRCHES, the list goes on and on. The thing about hyper trendy music is that it can give exactly off that box-checking vibe that makes you wonder if bands now write their music specifically to get recommended on Spotify Discover Weekly playlists to aforementioned artists like the ones above. “Fun?” What is this foreign concept? The board will have to meet again and get back to you on that. And then “Your Type” plays, and all these checked boxes have new, youthfully irreverent life breathed into them. That’s right, music can be fun!
The first impression that Antisocialites gives off is that Alvvays has a really good ear for synth sounds. Something in that warbly opening to “In Undertow,” and the album, sums up a lot of modern alternative. There’s an innocence there that doesn’t really show up a lot in today’s media. But as mentioned before, the Frankie Cosmos comparisons make the first few songs a bit expected. It’s important now more than ever to be unique because everything exists now. What is the Alvvays point of view? The outro to “Plimsoll Punks” gives a hint of it, with another fantastic synth choice. 8-bit is popular right now, and a little pinch of nostalgic flare goes a long way in bringing home a relatable sound.
And now “Your Type.” The past songs sound like someone who knows that fun exists and wants to have it. “Your Type” actually sounds like that person having fun. The powerful ’80s romance forward motion carries through with that expertly dissonant guitar riff break that says “we’ve arrived.” When the lead singer starts playing with her range, it becomes clear where they can be comfortable: about 10 bpm higher than a lot of other breathy synth bands are sticking with right now.
Antisocialites is a fantastic example of where music is at right now. With all the nostalgia for the past going on, the people who grew up with R.E.M., Radiohead, and all the other great alt bands get to reinterpret it for themselves, but actually have a fun creative time with the familiar form. The lyrics on “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” are so strangely specific about coffee tables and grocery stores, and “Saved By A Waif” takes musical risks. A breathy solemn intro that makes the listener think a ballad is coming, with a pitch bending cul-de-sac and a one-off synth addition all building up to a drum track bridge. The value of childlike creativity is clearer now than ever. “Forget About Life” is the perfect song to end Antisocialites on, because in a world that seems utterly devoid of fun, it’s great to have a reminder that it will always be possible to splatter some paint on mom’s white walls and break some rules.