As I’m waiting to be connected to Molly Rankin of the Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays, the video for one of their new tracks In Undertow – an addictive shoegazey swirl of Farfisa and feedback – has just gone live on YouTube. When she comes on the line from Toronto, I ask if she’s watching real-time reactions on the comments thread.
“I learned very early on that it’s not good to read that stuff,” Rankin says cheerfully. “I’ll probably go for a long walk for a few hours today and then come back and see if there’s been any disaster.” I read a few of the responses out nonetheless: “This is fricking amazing”; “Totally 80s and totally awesome”; “Molly so cute.” YouTube’s little thumbs-up icon has already been clicked hundreds of times. “Things are always good early on,” Rankin deadpans.
The Alvvays singer, guitarist and songwriter isn’t exactly a paragon of self-assurance, but she has every reason to feel upbeat as they prepare to release their second album, Antisocialites. The making of their self-titled debut album was long and precarious – Rankin had to pay for it to be mastered with waitressing money – and it took time to find its way into people’s affections after cassette copies were tentatively circulated, eventually getting a full release in 2014. Thanks to intoxicating, swooning songs such as Archie, Marry Me, the album made several critics’ end-of-year lists and sent Alvvays out touring the world for two years solid.
Antisocialites is a jangling bubblegum riot recalling Scottish indie-pop like the Vaselines and Camera Obscura. Rankin has a voice so sweet and yearning she could sing you a prison sentence and still make it sound dreamy. Her steady blossoming as a songwriter is particularly admirable when you consider how a tragedy in Rankin’s youth could quite easily have turned her away from music forever.
All five members of the band hail from remote islands in…