Alvvays
Blue Rev


4.5
superb

Review

by TheGreatEscaper USER (2 Reviews)
October 9th, 2022 | 386 replies


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And we’ll all get help, paradise, and we’ll start another life

On the cover of Blue Rev, a frightened Molly Rankin stares wide-eyed into the camera as her parents help her climb onto a wharf. Behind these figures of protection and behind the bright colours of her life-jacket are the dark, rolling clouds of adulthood. A few years after the taking of this photograph, Molly’s father will pass away, and that turbulent sky will become a little bigger.

Alvvays’ output has always been focused on moments of transition - of growing up, breaking up, or breaking down - and Blue Rev feels like the band’s most successful expression of the emotions that arise in these moments, in particular the fear of facing adulthood on your own when so much of the world is still a mystery.

The style of the album itself marks a transition for the band - their trademark clean, melodically immediate anthems have been muddied over their (notably unintentional) five year hiatus, and on my first listen of the lead single and opener ‘Pharmacist’, I was left confused and disappointed. The noisy production obscured the lyrics, and the melodies came and went before they could define themselves clearly in my mind. Over time, ‘Pharmacist’ and the other singles became songs I loved, but even then my first listen of the complete album was a similarly frustrating experience - it felt like the typically note-perfect hooks of this band were missing, and that the thicker textures of the songs meant they blended into each other.

Eventually I made peace with the fact that this album had different goals to their self-titled and sophomore album, and would achieve them in different ways. What then, does Blue Rev achieve by sacrificing the immediacy of its preceding albums? ‘Those paths have grown in now’, sings Rankin at the midpoint of ‘Pharmacist’, and this is an apt descriptor of the stylistic change. The anthemic summer tunes have been tainted by time, and to convey the uncertainty and confusion of facing the world and our own passage through it, Blue Rev embraces this fear and chaos into its songwriting. Melodies change themselves line to line, choruses reveal themselves only partially, and whiplash changes in texture mark the climaxes of many tracks. This isn’t to say that the melodies or song structures are poorly thought out - instead, just like the world they describe, secret patterns and moments of beauty reveal themselves over time. In ‘Tom Verlaine’, a seemingly aimless and meandering verse melody climbs itself higher and higher with each recurrence, like slowly intensifying waves of emotion. In ‘Velveteen’, a bridge seems to burn out into bureaucratic acceptance, a moment of attempted composure before the ever-pressing question of the song reappears in its most heartbreaking form.

The child on the cover of Blue Rev is facing the turbulent sky now. After Rankin’s apartment was robbed, after the band’s music equipment was destroyed by a flood, and after a pandemic that kept band members separated for years, the core of Blue Rev’s songs were recorded in a single two hour session - an isolated moment of things coming together in a world so full of mess. In a way, the album is asking us listeners to seek these moments ourselves. Can we still recognise the infectious, bubbly sound of the bands infancy somewhere in the heart of these roughed-up songs? We are still that child on the edge of the wharf, but now that we navigate the clouds on our own, we must accept the blurriness of their edges, and remind ourselves to find wonder in their shapes anyway.

A blue rev is an alcoholic drink, but one that most only consume at the very start of a drinking career - college parties full of people on the brink of adulthood. As you down the liquid, as your vision blurs, and as the sound of the party grows louder in your ears, you might feel a sense of pride at maturing and entering a new phase of life.
Then the fear and confusion comes.
And then, only then, will the beauty of it all come into view.


user ratings (285)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Faraudo
October 10th 2022


4712 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Worth the wait.

MoM
October 10th 2022


5994 Comments


First listen to this was great. Definitely looking forward to more time with it.

JohnZapp
October 10th 2022


165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm taking this as an easy listen that captivates me the whole way through and gets better with each listen. It's well crafted and has incredible layers

theBoneyKing
October 10th 2022


24569 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I definitely look forward to sinking my teeth a bit more into it especially since I’m seeing them live next month. Kind of feel they should have dropped this a couple months earlier though, their style doesn’t really match my current autumn mood.

JohnZapp
October 10th 2022


165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

After the earthquake might be my SOTY

JohnZapp
October 10th 2022


165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

> "their style doesn’t really match my current autumn mood."



Funny because I think Very Online Guy is so Halloween haha

protokute
October 10th 2022


2662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not nearly as good as their last outings tbh, it just lacks the more aggressive sugary rush energy and brightness with bombastic choruses that made me like them in the first place, there's not a single melody that stuck with me on two listens of this yet

twlight
October 10th 2022


9031 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is gorgeous. Tile by Tile is a damn jam.

theBoneyKing
October 10th 2022


24569 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I think “Tile By Tile” was my favorite on second listen. This stuff is really dense despite being so breezy, I have a feeling it’s going to be a “new highlights and hooks revealed every listen” sort of deal.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2022


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, this album feels much less catchy on a surface level than their other two. However, it's definitely a very strong effort in a different way and I'm expecting at least some of the tunes to unveil themselves as time goes on.

twlight
October 10th 2022


9031 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Saw these gals live last month open for war on drugs and they surprisingly stole the show. War on drugs was WAY too fucking loud. Band has no reason to ever be that loud live.

pollastrerostit
October 11th 2022


864 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Loved this album on first listen

Slex
October 11th 2022


16801 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Aight this is growing now lesgo

gryndstone
October 11th 2022


2796 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is knocking my socks off

hamid95
October 11th 2022


1211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh yeah same, big time

JohnZapp
October 11th 2022


165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yup. Loving everything about this album

plane
Emeritus
October 11th 2022


159 Comments


Genre classic like Antisocialites was always going to be hard to top, and the denser and sometimes overpopulated production (esp in the first half) can feel like compensation for songs that lack the vitality of their earlier work. And yet… gorgeous. Could be a grower that a clear mind and hifi speakers can accentuate.

alamo
October 12th 2022


5640 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

some people have commented in this thread

Slex
October 12th 2022


16801 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Lewis like always yr pretty much 100% on point, glad to see the Antisocialites love

plane
Emeritus
October 12th 2022


159 Comments


I love Antisocialites so much



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