Alvvays’ second album, ‘Antisocialites’, has just been released to widespread critical acclaim. Not that Molly Rankin would know, “I haven´t read a review yet, I probably won’t. Just to keep my brain healthy.”
Rankin is the singer and guitarist of the Canadian quartet, whose line up is completed by guitarist Alec O'Hanley, bassist Brian Murphy and Kerri MacLellan on keyboards. Even though Antisocialites is already earning accolades as one of this year’s best albums, it's not that surprising that Rankin would tend to expect the worse from reviews - she’s modest at best, shrugging off any complements with a laugh.
Yet, despite her hesitancy for self-applause, she seems quite happy with the new record, “I feel good about it, I'm excited for people to hear it.”
‘Antisocialites’ arrives with a lot more hype and anticipation than their self-titled debut, which was released in 2014. Since then, Alvvays have pretty much spent the last few years touring non-stop in support of it, “I think it took about a year and a half for people to enjoy our first album” she reflects. “That’s kind of how it felt; it was a really growing, gradual thing. So, I never went into this second record really thinking people would be crazy about it from right off the bat.”
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While working on ‘Antisocialites’, Rankin retreated to the secluded Toronto Island to get some space and isolation to break from the compact drudgery of tour life, “I benefit from time alone and that’s not something that is usually at my disposable when we are travelling. I did really enjoy going to a place where no one could interrupt me” she says. “When I was a child I really loved when no one was home, I felt like I could truly make noise and try things without anyone listening—that’s sort of the way I still really like to make music.”
‘Antisocialites’ pairs downcast, forlorn lyrics of observations and reflections, largely on relationships, (on ‘Dreams Tonite’, “Your face was supposed to be hanging over me like a rosary / So morose for me, seeing ghosts of me, writing oaths to me/ Is it so naïve to wonder… ”) with effervescent pop melodies gorgeously layered with jangly guitar-riffs, a juxtaposition that has earnt Alvvays comparisons with the likes of Camera Obscura. But, it's not all subdued dream-pop; tracks such as ‘Plimsoll Punks’ and ‘Your Type’ have a grittier, punk-charged edge, the lyrics construing a sense of reckless rebellion, “Get thrown out of the Louvre/And with vomit on your feet/Clamouring bon appetit” —an incident, which Rankin claims, is purely imaginary.
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I benefit from time alone...
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Her lyrics have a stark, directness that plays between lighter, more sardonic quips undercut with dark, sombre themes. From a storytelling perspective, it's an unpredictability that keeps listeners on edge, making it difficult not unpick and decipher her words—a reaction which Rankin welcomes, “The lyrics are something I've chosen quite carefully, so I don’t mind when people delve into them in detail” she reflects. “I find it very rewarding.”
Despite Alvvays' current accomplishments, it is easy to sense that Rankin strives to better herself, searching to remedy any of her self-identified creative weaknesses, “I would really like to be a more prolific writer… I don’t view myself as being particularly well-read; I think I kind of lump that into my diction and capabilities.”
She talks a lot about growing and developing, and speaks with determination to tackle and confront obstacles, “I'd love to be more productive. I think that eventually I will find a way to write on the road.” She credits her song writing partnership with O'Hanley for having pushed her on this record, “Alec and I are really hard on each other and really hard on ourselves, on as far as where we want to be musically, how we want to sound, we are constantly trying to improve our blind spots and our weak spots.”
When asked if she feels any pressure about the release of ‘Antisocalites’, she responds with typical diffidence, “I do feel pressure, but I use that to drive me creatively. I think if you really focus on that anticipation it can be a little bit troublesome… I sort of do my best and really try to write the strongest songs I could.”
You did a pretty good job on that, Molly.
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'Antisocialites' is out now.
Words: Charis McGowan
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