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No Boys Allowed: Alvvays

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‘No Boys Allowed’ is a series that spotlights and celebrates indie music created by artists who identify as women or non-binary.

The summer after I graduated from high school, I worked in an ice cream shop. Some of my favorite memories from those days were the night shifts — I’d leave at midnight with a pocket full of tip money and a free cone of ice cream, then I’d drive home along the river with the windows down singing Alvvays songs at the top of my lungs.

The five-piece indie pop band, fronted by Molly Rankin, released its first album (self-titled) in 2014. The album is full of bouncy, jangly guitars and keys backed by energetic drums, but Rankin’s voice is a level counterpoint that draws the listener in. Her lyrics are thoughtful and wry, and cut through the jaunty instrumentals with precision. A favorite line of mine comes from the beginning of “Archie, Marry Me” when Rankin sings “You’ve expressed explicitly/your contempt for matrimony/you’ve student loans to pay/and will not risk the alimony.” Alvvays’ lyrics temper the sentimental with the mundane, then package it up with thoughtful interiority in a way that always seems to resonate.

After three excruciating years of waiting, Alvvays released a second album: Antisocialites. If we’re being honest, it took me a while to warm up to Antisocialites. Not because I don’t like it, but because nothing can top my nostalgia-infused love of their first album. In their new album, the natural imagery that permeates the first album has largely gone away, making room for a more synthetic, bubblegum vibe. But images of water, trees, and moons still make their way into the lyrics of the album’s opening and closing songs in a way that feels like a nod to the band’s earlier work.

One of my favorite parts of Antisocialites is that it showcases keyboardist Kerri MacLellan’s keyboard prowess much more heavily. I don’t think it was until I saw the band live back in October 2017 that I really appreciated what a force she is. The synth parts in Antisocialites range across the album from tense to dreamy to bouncy, but they are absolutely indispensable throughout.

If you’re planning a car ride and need some Alvvays songs to shout at the top of your lungs, I’d recommend the following:

Ruth’s Top Picks:

  1. Saved By A Waif
  2. Not My Baby
  3. Ones Who Love You
  4. Dreams Tonite
  5. The Agency Group

Love,
Ruth

p.s.: Molly Rankin had a self-titled solo project that I would also recommend listening to. It’s called She EP, and the cover art very cleverly features a lot of sheep.

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