Antisocialites – the much-anticipated follow-up to Alvvays’ 2014 self-titled debut – is set for release on September 8th. Across its 10 tracks and 33 minutes the Toronto-based group dive back into the deep end of reckless romance and altered dates. Through thoughtful consideration in basement and abroad, Alvvays has renewed its Scot-pop vows with a powerful new collection of manic emotional collage.
The album opens with the excellent strum-’n-thrummer ‘In Undertow,’ a hi-amp breakup fantasy that is both crushing and charming for its level-headedness. “You find a wave and try to hold on for as long as you can, you made a mistake you’d like to erase and I understand,” sings Rankin, her voice full longing not for another person necessarily, but for what to do next. “Meditate, play solitaire, take up self-defense,” Molly continues, laundry-listing some strategies for moving on. “What’s next for you and me? I’ll take suggestions,” she deadpans under crashing waves of feedback and Farfisa.
Replete with more songs about drinking (‘Forget About Life,’ ‘Hey’), drugging (‘Lollipop (Ode To Jim)’), and drowning (‘Already Gone’), Antisocialites is a multipolar period piece fueled by isolation and loss. Perversely enjoyable dark drama springs from Rankin’s phonetic twists, quick-sung rhymes and irreverent syllable-play. “So morose for me, seeing ghosts of me, writing oaths to me,” the self-described introvert sings on the Cocteau-pop stunner ‘Dreams Tonite,’ the song from which the album’s name is derived. “In fluorescent light, antisocialites watch a wilting flower.”
To write Antisocialites, Rankin traveled to Toronto Island — working in an abandoned classroom by day and sleeping a few feet from shore at night — to avoid a stifling heat wave in the city. “I carried a small PA on the ferry in a wheelbarrow,” she recalls. “Every morning I would listen to my favorite records on the beach, then I’d write melodies and record demos in the classroom.” After tracking with keyboardist Kerri MacLellan and bassist Brian Murphy at Kingsize in LA, Rankin and guitarist Alec O’Hanley continued recording and mixing in their Toronto basement. A few friends descended to play on the record, including Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake.
Antisocialites details a world of ice cream truck jingles and radiophonic workshop noise, where Rankin’s shining wit is refracted through crystalline counterpoint. ‘Not My Baby’ is a centerpiece, a meditation on the rapture of escape following the sadness of separation. Elsewhere, ‘Plimsoll Punks’ is the band’s answer to Television Personalities’ ‘Part-Time Punks’ and a winking surf opus indictment of the self-righteous who intend to condescend. Molly wrote the rapid-fire sugar stream ‘Lollipop (Ode to Jim)’ after singing ‘Just Like Honey’ with Jesus and Mary Chain. ‘Your Type’ is a beautiful primitive stomp about running around Paris with vomit on your feet post-Louvre ejection.
The record concludes with a movement that is at once stark and celebratory. On ‘Forget About Life,’ the apartment stands in disarray as undrinkable wine is inhaled: “When the failures of the past multiply and you trivialize the things that keep your hand from mine, did you want to forget about life with me tonite?” The resonant freaks in Rankin’s tales don’t find much resolve, but with equal doses of black humor and heartstring-tugging, Antisocialites rings a truer tone.