Photo by Gavin Keen
Canada’s Alvvays had to add the typographical quirk after discovering an English band with the same name, and what a twist of fate. The original Always drew from the same wellspring as the newer one: jangly folk, girl-group pop, and just a hint of punk darkness.
Don’t let this search-engine-confusion dissuade you, though. Alvvays’ self-titled debut is as charming as they come; it’s sweet, but spiked by frontwoman Molly Rankin’s wry observations. She’s frequently in crisis-mode, filtering her where-am-I-going musings through a lens that any twentysomething (or anybody with a beating heart) can understand. Subway rides turn into epic daydreams full of romance and astronauts, only to come crashing back to earth. For such a buttoned-up genre, Alvvays truly let loose on “Archie, Marry Me,” going for broke with a huge hook. It’s the equivalent of a giant billboard, smashing any sort of romantic confusion with its unsubtle message. This is music that’s meant to be sung, preferably at the top of your lungs.