Alvvays - Blue Rev Music Album Reviews

Alvvays - Blue Rev Music Album Reviews
The Toronto band’s third album is a triumph of power pop, a densely layered, witty, blithe, and beautiful record that sets a new benchmark for the genre.

Why has no one thought to better organize the institution of power pop? Ever since Big Star chimed in with their #1 Record, bands of all stripes—the pop group with a shreddy guitarist, the pivoting mid-career punks, the shoegaze band going sober—have gathered loosely under this jubilant banner to pay tribute to broken hearts through hooks and harmonies. At some point, an intrepid fan could have borrowed from the various committees that oversee ska and emo and split power pop into waves, or at the very least adopted a post- or a nü- prefix along the way to divide a genre that’s collected bands since the Nixon era, from the Raspberries to the Go-Gos to Superchunk to the New Pornographers.

So let’s hang a sign over Alvvays and their astonishingly great album Blue Rev as the sound of the genre today. Call it dream-power pop, power pop-gaze, nü-power pop, it doesn’t matter—it’s just one Toronto band absorbing its spirit, mastering its construction, and making it all their own. While singer-songwriter Molly Rankin and guitarist Alec O’Hanley had started writing Blue Rev back in 2017, a series of unfortunate events—floods, thefts, visa issues, a global pandemic—delayed the recording of the album until last year, when the band finally entered the studio with veteran producer Shawn Everett. Armed with a new rhythm section and the one producer you hire when you want to “level up” in the indie world, Alvvays came out with a record that finally is large enough to contain the band’s splendor. Every song on Blue Rev is a feast, done up with effortless élan. It is a deep dive through the history of pop and rock, down into the abyss of what its future might look like.

Alvvays knew the mechanics of a song inside and out on their second album, Antisocialites, but now they are masters of their craft. Blue Rev is absolutely lousy with bridges and middle-8s that give even the album cuts a sense of stakes and momentum. They’ll do the Pixies’ quiet-loud-quiet thing, then a big gaudy key change straight out of a country tune, then bring in some of Kevin Shields’ famous “glide guitar” technique, then Rankin will belt out a note like it’s Adele karaoke night, then the band will bring it down to do a synth-led psychedelic song about a reply-guy in your mentions. This wide-ranging, recombinant style is less about genre-hopping and more about the construction of the songs themselves—there’s so much care over when the chorus needs to go up the octave, when the guitar solo needs to come screaming in, when the key needs to modulate, when the rhythm section needs to drop out. Any band can borrow a style, but when Alvvays builds these songs from the treasured blueprints of bands like Lush and the Lilys, they feel monumental from the very first listen.

What separates Blue Rev from all the teenage-kicks albums before it is Rankin’s subconscious, hyperreal songwriting, which runs counter to the current mode of stark diaristic pop songwriting where singers follow an emotion or idea without detour. Rankin, on the other hand, is all detours and off-ramps, asides and parentheses, bushwhacking through the undignified mess of life. She only gestures at a feeling, allowing the band and her blockbuster vocal lines to take the listener the rest of the way. In her world, the worst thing is not running into your ex, but running into your ex’s sister at a pharmacy who will casually offer that he has that “new love glow” about him. Murder, She Wrote and a Belinda Carslie song make memorable cameos. Proust had his little cookies; Rankin has Blue Rev, a nuclear-blue malt beverage that is swilled behind a skating rink on “Belinda Says” like one last dizzying teenage reverie before early-onset adulthood.

From the band’s first single, the HOF indie rock jam “Archie, Marry Me” to now, Rankin’s literary flair has never been pretentious, only wise. When she’s helpless, she’s “an assistant to the way life’s shaking out”; if she wants to leave, she will “egress”; she’s not single, she’s “riding the pine.” Near the end of the album, on “Lottery Noises,” Rankin sings one of the most crushing lines about a breakup, foregrounding good fortune in the face of total destruction: “I’ll always be looking for ways to remember the sound of the lottery noises that I can’t believe rang for me.” Like the sound of Blue Rev, the sentiment is so layered and dreamy the real pain underneath is basically invisible.

One more great Rankin line, that opens the triumphant “Easy on Your Own?”: “I dropped out/College education’s a dull knife/If you don’t believe in the lettered life/Then maybe this is our only try.” It gets at the diffuse themes of Blue Rev: escaping and returning, stasis and change, how difficult it is to tell the difference between the two. It’s not the gnarly stuff of high-school hallways, but the soft fear of matriculation. Maybe this liminal, shoegazian state resonates with you, or maybe it’s O’Hanley’s guitar solo at the end of the big rave-up “Pomeranian Spinster.” Blue Rev careens between the sublime and the extremely sick, soothing one moment and whipping you back against your seat the next. It is cool and righteous, it makes you feel cool and righteous, you hope that when other people hear it they feel cool and righteous. This is the old currency of pop music, and Blue Rev makes it feel new again.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Alvvays - Blue Rev Music Album Reviews Alvvays - Blue Rev Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 15, 2022 Rating: 5


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