After a long five years, Alvvays has returned with their long-awaited album, “Blue Rev.” Named after the Canadian alcoholic beverage, Rev, this album is bubbly and hard-hitting.
The band, based in Toronto, has been around for almost ten years. This album, their third, is the culmination of over half of their time together. A full profile on the band can be found here.
After many trials and tribulations (floods, thefts, the pandemic) getting in the way of this release, it centers itself around stasis and change. Antonymous as they are, stasis and change are often closely interwoven.
“Blue Rev” sees Alvvays pushing the boundaries of their sound while refining it like never before. They still have the heavy focus on melodies over genre shown consistently throughout their discography but it’s shown in new light on this album. That bittersweet sound I can instantly recognize Alvvays by has been bolstered by brilliant songwriting and guitarwork.
My favorite thing about this album is how seamlessly it balances the faster, more energetic tracks with slower, more melancholic tracks. They add an element of abrasiveness to their sound on this album that is hard to miss.
Rankin and O’Haley’s songwriting is the best it’s ever been on this record. The “Blue Rev” track list focuses on events that are dramatically life-changing. Natural disasters are described to emphasize the catastrophe these changes can ensue. Rankin finds a perfect balance of reflection to learn from these moments but move on.
There are also moments in the track list that highlight all the good that can come from change. “Many Mirrors” is a love ballad in a sea of heartbreak and reflection that serves as a beacon of hope that good times are ahead.
“Now that we’ve passed through many mirrors / I can’t believe we’re still the same”Alvvays, “Many Mirrors” Lyric
The guitarwork on this album is also the best it’s ever been for Alvvays. Each track builds beautifully throughout the song and from each song before it. The guitar and Rankin’s pristine vocals, like on previous Alvvays records, link this album together.
“Tile by Tile” followed by “Pomeranian Spinster” whiplash the listener from melancholy to euphoria in a fashion that is prevalent throughout the entire album. The band’s ability to switch between the soft, jangly and rocky, rough sounds make each song an exciting listening experience.
“After the Earthquake” starts with jangly guitars in the same vain as any other Alvvays song but before realizing it, the song has exploded with reverb and roughness. Only once the reverb comes in at full-blast into a pop-rock anthem, the song pauses for a moment, letting the listener savor the sound they just heard, before exploding again.
My only wish for the album is that it ended a song earlier. “Lottery Noises” would have been an conclusive, wipe-out finisher. The addition of “Fourth Figure” at the end makes the ending feel stagnated on, like there should be more to come.
This album took some time to grow on me fully, but each time I listen to it I find something new to connect with. Even though this is Alvvays’ longest record, I think it is their most consistent and fleshed-out project to date.
I am eager to see what Alvvay’s next project sounds like. Hopefully, they will continue to bolster their sound and will be able to release their project sooner rather than later. Alvvays is touring right now throughout the United States.