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Overlooked: Antisocialites, by Alvvays

Why the Canadian band’s 2017 release matters now more than ever
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Alvvays presents a fresh, Canadian take on the indie genre. DAVID LEE/CC FLICKR
Alvvays presents a fresh, Canadian take on the indie genre. DAVID LEE/CC FLICKR

I can still remember the first time I listened to “Not My Baby,” the fifth track on Antisocialites. It was late 2018 and the middle of a snowstorm as I was coming back home from my friend’s place after an afternoon of studying for a presentation — which, despite how much we stressed over it, ended up being quite meaningless in the long run of life. 

As the snow covered my windshield, I decided to tune into 99.1 FM, CBC Radio One — if I was going to be stuck in traffic, I might as well have fun. Instantly, the record resonated with me. 

As a long-time fan of the indie genre, discovering a new band often brings the same joy as finding a rare Pokémon card in my youth — it’s a feeling that can’t be beaten. I raised the volume in my SUV as loud as I could, immediately Shazam’d the record, and decided to listen to the rest of the album that night. The rest was history.

Antisocialites is by far one of the best albums I’ve ever listened to. Molly Rankin’s raw vocals accompanied by the pounding synth and ethereal guitar and drums produced by the likes of Kerri MacLellan and Alec O’Hanley — among other incredibly talented artists — created an experience that radiated such great vibes. 

Very few albums I’ve listened to since have matched the emotions expressed in Antisocialites. Stand-out tracks, such as “Dreams Tonite,” “Your Type,” and “In Undertow,” have dominated my playlists ever since that fateful snowy night.

Bonus points for the band’s Canadian heritage; however, I hold no other biases that lead to my praise. The critical reception tends to agree with me as well, with The Ringer naming the album in its 2017 year-end top 10 list and the album finishing in the shortlist for 2018’s Polaris Music Prize, awarded to the best Canadian album of a given year. 

However, outside of critical acclaim — and the die-hard support of some 4,300-plus Redditors, among other social media, following — it would appear Alvvays are often overlooked in the face of a fairly saturated indie pop scene. Antisocialites peaked on the Billboard 200 at the 14th spot — which is solid for the band’s second album — but they haven’t seen the same commercial success since. 

Why should you listen to this album right now? The question you should really be asking yourself is, why haven’t you listened to this album yet? What Antisocialites lacks in album sales and iTunes chart positions it makes up for infinitely with its refreshing take on a genre that more or less has attempted to redo Mac DeMarco and The Smiths for the last decade. 

While Alvvays wear their musical influences on their sleeves, the group does so in a manner that sounds more like an homage to their predecessors, as well as a fresh take on the classics you know and love. 

While you could go back to your Spotify or Apple Music account and play the same album you’ve had on repeat for the last six months, why not try something new? The question Rankin so soothingly posed on the album’s tender outro track, “Did you want to forget about life with me tonight?” rings true in the middle of a seemingly never-ending pandemic. So, get comfortable, put on a pair of headphones, and listen to Antisocialites as you try and enter your dreams tonight.