On the Radar: Alvvays

On their self-titled 2014 debut album, Canadian dream-poppers Alvvays unleashed an irresistible bittersweet jangle-pop wall of sound that saw them land slots at Glastonbury and Coachella and embark on a seemingly ceaseless world tour. No sooner had they returned to their adopted Toronto home, the band – led by singer and primary writer Molly Rankin – got straight to work on its follow-up, Antisocialites.

Rankin chose the familiar seclusion of island life to write and demo the album, due out on Transgressive this month. The band hail from a trio of Nova Scotia islands, and Rankin picked Toronto Island to get started. “I was practising in my basement and demoing things, then I realised I wanted to go somewhere where I wasn’t in contact with anyone and immerse myself,” she says. “So I rented out an old classroom and just recorded for two weeks. I pretty much finished everything there, came back and dumped it on the table for Alec [O’Hanley, the band’s guitarist] to listen to, and the strongest stuff made it onto the record.”

While they grew up 3,000 miles away from the UK, British influences are abundant both in Alvvays’ record collections and the melodic romance and reverb-drenched guitar tapestries that characterised both the debut LP and first single from Antisocialites, In Undertow. The sounds of The Smiths, Teenage Fanclub and Camera Obscura are never far away. “There’s definitely a weight that comes along with going to the UK, based on the things we all gravitate towards,” Rankin tells us as they embarked on an Autumn tour including a set at End of the Road Festival.

“It’s been really exciting to go over to the UK so many times and have people show up and sing the words. It’s not always the case.  It’s cool playing venues that have old Kirsty MacColl posters on the wall. A lot of our influences, their root is in the UK.” – Molly Rankin

The success of Alvvays’ debut album was especially potent in Britain, powered by the furiously infectious lead single Archie, Marry Me. Rankin says the relative fame it brought them came as a surprise. “It was something that took a while to happen. It was very gradual and kept burning. We were lucky in that sense, because we had a lot to learn as we were growing; and because it was more gradual, we were able to keep up with the growth. I was banking on failure, which is sort of my comfort zone, so it’s been a growing experience and a lot of the songs reflect me grappling with all of the shifting elements of my personal life.”