It took 5 years for Alvvays to launch a follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2017 album Antisocialites, however the Toronto-based band didn’t intend to be away for fairly so lengthy. The odyssey to get to their third album, Blue Rev (out now through Polyvinyl and Transgressive), was rife with setbacks and challenges. Actually, Alvvays had deliberate for Blue Rev to come back out shortly after Antisocialites.
“We had been hoping to get a leap on it, as a result of there was such a protracted hole between our first two [records],” vocalist Molly Rankin tells SPIN from her dwelling in Toronto.
Rankin and lead guitarist/co-songwriter/important different Alec O’Hanley started writing the album in 2018, however the band — which usually doesn’t write on the highway — was always touring in assist of their second file. Then Rankin’s residence was damaged into whereas she was exterior throughout a warmth wave, with the thief stealing a recorder from her mattress containing “lots of of hours” of recordings that Rankin was contemplating for the brand new album.
“Often [melodies] simply get caught in my head and I can regurgitate if want be, so I don’t suppose I’ve misplaced a ton of magic in all of these demos,” she says. “However I do marvel the place they’re. Are they in a sewer someplace on a reminiscence card or are they in a pawn store in Ontario someplace? Who is aware of? It may very well be probably very embarrassing.”
However the greatest setback turned out to be the pandemic.
Simply when the band had booked studio time in Los Angeles and Seattle, planning to file after their mini tour with The Strokes, Alvvays was ordered to return dwelling to Canada (besides US-based drummer Sheridan Riley). The band (sans Riley) did the most effective they may to work on Blue Rev in Rankin and O’Hanley’s basement, with keyboardist Kerri MacLellan becoming a member of a few nights per week after the lockdowns started to minimize.
The pandemic classes additionally allowed the band to let unfastened throughout such an emotionally heavy time. Apart from writing Blue Rev, the trio would cowl ’90s pop ballads, goofily costume up in wigs, and play playing cards, discovering catharsis of their reunion.
As soon as issues began opening up, Riley made their method to Canada and all gave the impression to be going easily… till bassist and co-founder Brian Murphy left in 2021 proper when Alvvays was about to embark on the remaining rescheduled dates for his or her tour with The Strokes. Fortunately, the band discovered a fast alternative in Riley’s roommate, Abbey Blackwell.
Regardless of the modifications — like working with six-time Grammy-winning producer Shawn Everett (The Killers, Kacey Musgraves) for the primary time — Alvvays stored its dreamy, shoegaze-leaning sound for Blue Rev. In some ways, the LA-based Canadian Everett was the right match.
“I feel that we had been huge followers of simply the panorama he creates with music,” Rankin says, recalling that Everett was initially solely obtainable to provide half of the album as a result of he’s in such excessive demand — however finally deciding to do the complete factor as soon as recording started. “I feel he has such a grasp of the science of audio as effectively the place he is aware of find out how to increase issues and provides issues house. It’s only a actually distinctive talent to be an artist and a scientist directly.”
This time round, Rankin needed to make one other change by retaining issues lyrically lighter than the earlier two data. The band’s debut had gut-wrenching songs about heartbreak (some utilizing drowning in a river as a metaphor leaving a relationship behind), whereas Antisocialites used the metaphor of relationships falling aside for the band’s fraught interval the place they thought of parting methods.
Whereas there are particular songs on Blue Rev that contact on the topic (“Straightforward On Your Personal?”), Rankin was rather more eager about exploring her wry humorousness. The brand new wave-inspired “Very On-line Man” is a sarcastic ode to “reply guys” who’re determined for consideration on the web. The jangly “Pomeranian Spinster” looks like listening to the ideas of somebody reciting every little thing they want they may say to somebody who’s ticked them off.
“I’ve at all times actually appreciated musicians who might poke enjoyable at themselves — or if the lyrical subject material is extraordinarily darkish, there are typically moments of humor to steadiness that out,” Rankin says. “I feel there’s additionally a maritime east coast factor the place issues get so bleak within the winter, or there’s a variety of tragedy that occurs on the market, and folks get by with music and humor. You may meet somebody whose complete household died in a home hearth they usually might by no means point out it and simply be the funniest particular person within the village. It’s simply this talent or this coping mechanism. I feel if we ever frolicked in particular person, you’d most likely discover that’s a instrument I readily whip out.”
However apart from the winking humor, Blue Rev explores recollections from Rankin’s hometown, Inverness County in Cape Breton. There’s the odd feeling of getting to confront somebody out of your previous (“Pharmacist”), being determined to take the final prepare out of city and leaving dwelling for good (“Bored in Bristol”), and beginning anew in an imagined story a couple of pregnant girl leaving “with nothing in [her] pocket.”
“You simply notice that it’s by no means actually dwelling once more in a sure approach — the house that you just knew,” Rankin says. “Grappling with that loss and in addition rekindling your love of a spot is only a actually difficult house to occupy, and the method is fairly lovely.”
Arguably probably the most heartfelt tracks on Blue Rev is “Many Mirrors,” which can initially seem to be a love tune about Rankin’s relationship with O’Hanley retaining its power all through the challenges, but additionally suits as a story for the band nonetheless standing after going through all the bumps alongside the best way.
“That tune is a superb description of every little thing that I’ve been by means of, Alec’s been by means of and our band too,” Rankin explains. “Additionally, that one is a bit of little bit of Alec’s child, the place he introduced it to me and I put a refrain on it. It was only a good sentiment to explain our journey.”