Published by Jeff Becker on August 12, 2014
"When lightning strikes
I'll be on my bird
I'll be stuck inside
I will be taken for" — from 'Ones Who Love You' — Alvvays, 2014.
Burrowing back to the days of Belle and Sebastian's underground and unsuspecting, seminal Tigermilk debut, the Toronto-based quintet Alvvays unexpectedly deliver a similar heartthrob album of lo-fi, bubbly twee pop tunes. Recorded in Brooklyn (yet sounding nothing like Brooklyn) Alvvays shines their lights in the same direction as other lo-fi dream pop groups like Memoryhouse (SubPop), early Camera Obscura, and even the debut Best Coast album. The only thing missing here is a Drew Barrymore-directed video. Making a unique sound and impact for themselves inside this lo-fi pop musical niche (or is it too big of a genre now to be called a niche?) will be difficult, but the marketing wheels are burning through hamsters at a great pace right now. I haven't seen a band hit the newspapers (ha!) like this since Savages. Where Savages were ultimately overrated, the chart-topping debut by Alvvays is both charming and edgy. Delicately unpolished and so lo-fi at certain points that its one out of tune guitar riff away from having a punk edge at times. Try out 'Atop a Cake' and you'll be one verb away from the Dum Dum Girls.
While the Alvvays sound and style isn't original in a day where 60's, lo-fi throwback pop bands are firing off in all directions, they do what they do very well. Simple melodies with cute arrangements that are catchy – and appetizing for their inevitable next release. My free advice to this talented band is to drop the lo-fi sound and deliver a pop record for the ages next time. It was cute this time, but next time is your shot. Best Coast shed the lo-fi sound admirably for their sophmore effort and Alvvays should attempt the same. Their songwriting, vocals and melodies need no gimmicks. A wonderfully, catchy pop record is in the books and their next one will be on my pre-order list on day one.