These days, there isn’t a much more satisfying feeling than falling ass-backwards into music that immediately ticks so many boxes that it becomes an instant obsession, destined to enter the regular rotation. I’m not sure what rock I’ve been living under, but it’s now vacant and I will not be subletting it. Alvvays is one of those bands that I know I’d heard of, but hadn’t heard. Now that I’ve had some time to catch up, I can say with confidence that I’ve been missing out in a big way.
All three of Alvvays’ albums are great, but I’m kind of obsessed with the sound of this latest one. I’ve read in a couple interviews that producer Shawn Everett “had the band play the album twice through, live off the studio floor, and then spent the rest of the recording process meticulously fucking up the recordings.”1
He decided to run the tracks through a finicky tape machine that was technically broken, but produced a sound he liked. “Every time I’d print a mix it would sound slightly different—it was an excruciating process,” he says. “But I always try to have one chaotic aspect that is outside my control, so I’m not just working into my own thoughts.”2
I’m sorry, what? That’s a pretty unorthodox approach to a studio album—definitely an aesthetic that a lot of bands don’t go for these days—and it’s exciting. Blue Rev sounds like an analog photograph looks: beautifully grainy, broadly contrasting & dynamic, and purposefully hand-made.
Add to that a level of songwriting that you don’t hear much anymore, and Blue Rev is easily going to end up on scads of top ten lists for this year despite entering the game late in the season. Vocalist & guitarist Molly Rankin’s gorgeous melodies and bittersweet lyrics paired with guitarist Alec O’Hanley’s wide palette of tones is this fall’s most prolific earworm farm, harvesting hook after unforgettable hook. I was almost instantly reminded of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, only learning later that they toured together in the past. Of course they did. That shared vocabulary—churning shoegaze, twee toe-tappers, punk attitude, leveling-up key changes, and searing guitar solos—keep me coming back again and again. And again.
- Alex Hudson, Alvvays Are Unpredictable, Harsh and Better Than Ever on ‘Blue Rev’, Explain!
- Carly Lewis, Alvvays Enter Their Epiphany Era, Pitchfork