Arts & Life, Music

Alvvays returns with invigorating new album “Blue Rev”

The album artwork for "Blue Rev" by Alvvays.
The album artwork for "Blue Rev" by Alvvays. Photo credit: Polyvinyl Records

Alvvays’ new album “Blue Rev” is like riding a motorcycle with a glass of aged red wine. It’s fast and cranked full of reverb, but elegant and sweet when it has to be.

Toronto band Alvvays has been around since 2011, but only just cannonballed us with their third studio album, “Blue Rev.”

Released five years after their last album, “Antisocialites,” Alvvays hasn’t lost any of the charm that made their first two albums so successful. “Blue Rev” picks up where “Antisocialites” left off musically, while also evolving the band’s sound.

Alvvays also had a change in its lineup, with Sheridan Riley replacing Phil MacIsaac on drums, and Abbey Blackwell replacing Brian Murphy on bass.

Following similar themes as previous albums like adulthood and motherhood, frontwoman Molly Rankin contemplates these topics in a more mature way. “Belinda Says,” discusses giving into the pressures of society to become a mother and moving to the country.

Rankin’s vocals are front and center on this album. Alvvays’ self-titled debut album had plenty of catchy, jangly guitar riffs that stood out in each song. “Antisocialites” added more synths and elements of dream-pop. “Blue Rev” retains the tone of “Antisocialites,” but dives feet first into shoegaze on the opening track “Pharmacist” and “Lottery Noises.”

“Easy On Your Own?” is another standout track with its bright verses and Rankin’s display of vocal range .

“Blue Rev” doesn’t really have any of the bright hooks that were sprinkled throughout their past albums. Instead, we get a wall of sound in the background of most of the album.

The instrumentation on this album plays more of a background role supporting Rankin’s vocals. This makes for some of the fastest-paced songs in Alvvays’ discography like “After The Earthquake,” which is reminiscent of Johnny Marr’s guitar playing with The Smiths.

There are tender moments on the album as well. “Tile By Tile” slows everything down with a simple beat, coupled with one of Rankins best vocal performances, before swelling into a synth and guitar solo.

At 14 tracks, this album manages to stay interesting from front to back. It’s densely packed, but has enough sonic variation to make for a unique and fulfilling record.

“Blue Rev” closes with “Fourth Figure.” In only two verses, Rankin belts out one of the most personal ballads Alvvays has ever recorded. It’s a strange, yet very much appreciated farewell from Alvvays.

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