Alvvays by Alvvays (Album of the Week)

Alvvays_-_AlvvaysAlbum: Alvvays

Artist: Alvvays

Released: 2014

About: 9 songs; 33 minutes

Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

A couple years ago, I drove to Colorado to spend a week alone, working on my book. There are so many pieces of that experience that mean so much to me. One of them, is the music that I listened to. Driving across Kansas on a beautiful summer day listening to the Best Coast album is etched in my mind as a lifetime memory. Best Coast is like a soundtrack of walking on a beach in the 1960s. Alvvays has that same kind of sound. This is not the greatest album that I have listened to this year, but it is just the right kind of ear fluff that feels good after a few weeks of pretty intense listens. It was kind of dreary in KC this week, so this album brightening some hours was welcome. 

I need to step back somewhat, however, to note that that the nine songs that make up this album are not manufactured, cutesy pop songs. Molly Rankin, the lead singer (who has a perfect nasally, laconic styling fit for beachy songs),hails from a family of notable folk singers. That weaving a story styling comes out in this album.

The whole album is like peeking in a girl’s diary. Lots of wistfully trying to figure out what is going on in the boy’s head, wanting it to last, wanting it to start. She does a pretty great job of crafting familiar images in those songs. Lines like “we wrote our names on the overpass, and I hope it lasts forever” and “how can I lose control when you’re driving from the back seat” make the songs smart in their perceptiveness.

The single that the band released, Archie, Marry Me is a plea to a boy to jettison his refusing spirit and take the plunge into matrimony. First of all, how perfect is that name? Archie! And then, her simple bargain is charming, so honey take me by the hand and we can sign some papers, Forget the invitations, floral arrangements and bread makers. All of this is wrapped in a garage band sound of guitars and drums and background singers. It pulls you in.  

Some songs on this album catch you off guard with what they are saying. Next of Kin may be metaphor, but she’s singing that she left her love in the river after the current made her lose his hand when he couldn’t swim. This one could be a Peter, Paul and Mary song were it not for its surf sound.

Probably my favorite song on the album is one of the quietest. Red Planet has a haunting sound and with the lost love theme.

And I waited for forever, and that was just delusional

So I painted all these pictures of earth but that’s unusual

Ending the album on this quiet, dreamy song is a nice touch.

Dan also liked the sound of this album and defied anyone to not get into it. I think we agree that this is not the best thing we listened to this year, but spending a week with it made me recall some good memories and it offered up some spirited listening for a dreary week.

Next up: we rank our year’s listens

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