By Jordan Yeager
CALGARY – The monotony of a Canadian winter can be exhausting. Waking up to residual nightfall spilling over into what should be daylight, the world is moving nowhere fast, and it doesn’t exactly inspire productivity: when layering up sufficiently to brave the outdoors takes 20 minutes, why bother? Dreariness lingers seeming-perpetually, interrupted only by brief months of sunlit respite. So, what is there to do? For Molly Rankin, Kerri MacLellan, Alec O’Hanley, Sheridan Riley and Brian Murphy, the answer is simple: make music. The five, many of whom have known each other at least peripherally since childhood, go by Alvvays and are currently touring in the wake of their second album, Antisocialites.
“Kerri is a childhood friend,” says Rankin. “I met Alec in Halifax, when he was playing a show with one of his previous bands, and he went to high school with Brian, who plays bass. Sheridan, who plays drums for us, we saw her play at the Mod Club in Toronto with a different band and asked her if she wanted to play with us. That was like a year ago.”
Growing up in Nova Scotia surrounded by the ocean, trees, and rolling hills provided inspiration for lyrics that enable listeners to see the scenes set by your words. While not everyone has visited the Canadian east coast, they can certainly envision tree-covered mountains turning red and yellow on a golden September dusk or the vast blue sea sprawling out endlessly, marked by lighthouses along the shore.
“I can be a little bit observational with my lyrics,” says Rankin. “I’m inspired by space and weather and distance and being alone. I like to paint imagery, and it’s easier to be descriptive when you’re talking about, you know, the sunset or the trees or the ocean.”
Alvvays is decidedly pop-centric, with heavy synths and catchy melodies laced throughout dreamy vocals. If you listen carefully, you might hear “a little bit of fiddle personality” within Rankin’s guitar style, hinting back to her formative years in the industry, but for the most part, Antisocialites doesn’t stray far from the precedent set by their debut album. If anything, it’s heavier-hitting.
“With the first record, some of the way that things were recorded, we ended up having to take a lot of treble out of the record,” she explains. “I think the first one may be a little bit softer sounding. When we play live, I think we sound a little bit more – I don’t want to use the word lively, but there’s definitely frequencies that we didn’t have on the record when we play live, and I think people notice that. But this record has a little bit more of a full spectrum. It might be a little bit more lively, but we didn’t really want to alienate our first record, either. I didn’t really have any hopes and dreams of leaving that to the dust. I still feel good about it.”
Alvvays perform on March 31 at The Palace Theatre [Calgary].Alvvays, East Coast, pop, The Palace Theatre