Alvvays – ‘Blue Rev’ review: a confident indie pop album that stays true to their roots

On their third album, the Canadian indie-pop darlings solidify their continued relevance in the alternative music scene.

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On ‘Blue Rev’, Alvvays envelop fans with the comfort of a warm blanket. From their first outing, 2014’s Polaris prize-shortlisted self-titled album, to their second Juno award-winning ‘Antisocialites’, fans have come to expect this.

Characteristically, their third album is blindingly bright, the binary of jovial and tender remains, but they take it to newer plains. Take ‘After The Earthquake’ – the speed of the song drives the listener head first, before jolting into stillness. A mix of confrontational, crashing highs and gentle armistice, it’s tender yet antagonistic. This binary is littered throughout the album. Standout track ‘Pressed’, is as charging, but more melodic, employing a key change that adds an otherworldly levity that breathes in new life.

Lyrically, what might be surprising is that Alvvays play much more with sarcastic humour. ‘Very Online Guy’ is the case-in-point, invoking the sea-change of how we view internet culture: is it beneficial to be ‘very online’ or is it a sign of narcissism and lack of self-awareness? Simply closing the track with “he’s a very online guy“, it’s likely that this isn’t a compliment but a suggestive, concealed eye-roll. In this sense, the album appeals to their long-standing fans, largely millennials who are navigating the slowly changing landscape of what it means to be ‘virtually’ present. It may not draw in new fans, but will appeal to their loyal, knowing fan base; the fan base they’ve grown with.

And so, it perhaps wouldn’t be Alvvays if their romance and all of its implications weren’t imbued in the album in some sense – the kind of hungered overt love we felt on signature track ‘Archie, Marry Me’.

The central refrain on ‘Bored in Bristol’ hears frontwoman Molly Rankin longingly sing “always waiting“; on ‘Tom Verlaine’ she orders “when you walk away it better be for good“, while reluctantly adding “I know you’ll be there in the rain glowing like the first night, telling me you’ve changed“. Alvvays know that matters of the heart aren’t simple but constant and the navigation to where your destiny lies is both exciting and painful. They’re experts at exploring this.

Blue Rev isn’t a total reinvention, nor a complete breakaway from the sound that led to their prominence almost 10 years ago. Yet Alvvays manage to build on that base in a way that allows them to consistently progress. ‘Blue Rev’ is more provocative, urgent, caustic, even. Fresh feeling, it solidifies their continued relevance in the alternative music scene.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Alvvays – 'Blue Rev'