After a five-year wait that felt at least twice that long, beloved dream-pop quintet Alvvays have finally announced their third album, out Oct. 7 on Polyvinyl. The follow-up to 2017’s universally acclaimed Antisocialites, Blue Rev is Alvvays’ longest album yet at 14 tracks (as well as “the most harmonically rich and lyrically provocative,” a press release teases), a fact that’s sure to have their cult following licking its collective chops.
First single and album opener “Pharmacist” might as well be the Big Bang, exploding outward to form the beginnings of a new era of Alvvays. Molly Rankin’s porcelain vocal melodies cut through avalanches of whammied guitar distortion, recounting a run-in at a pharmacy over Sheridan Riley’s insistent jangle-pop percussion. Radiant synths give way to a quicksilver guitar solo, like a comet slicing across a sky full of stars. At just over two minutes long, the dynamic and detailed track doesn’t just beg repeat listens—it demands them.
That press release offers a brief summary of the years since Alvvays’ last album, the short version of which is, life happened. They first began writing and recording new material soon after releasing Antisocialites, but were then beset by pandemic lockdown, an unexpected amount of touring, the theft of “a recorder full of demos” from Rankin’s apartment, a basement flood that nearly destroyed their gear, the loss of their rhythm section, and the border closure-delayed integration of a new one (featuring drummer Riley and bassist Abbey Blackwell).
Alvvays recorded Blue Rev in October 2021 at a Los Angeles studio with Shawn Everett (The War on Drugs, Kacey Musgraves), abandoning their typical, meticulously planned approach at Everett’s urging, and instead simply playing the album straight to tape, barely pausing between songs. After that, the band and Everett “spent an obsessive amount of time [...] filling in the cracks, roughing up the surfaces, and mixing the results.” The resulting LP is the realization of the band’s “collective quest to break patterns heard on their first two albums.”
Thematically, Blue Rev fits into Alvvays’ bigger picture as follows, per that presser:
Alvvays’ self-titled debut, released when much of the band was still in its early 20s, offered speculation about a distant future—marriage, professionalism, interplanetary citizenship. Antisocialites wrestled with the woes of the now, especially the anxieties of inching toward adulthood. Named for the sugary alcoholic beverage Rankin and MacLellan used to drink as teens on rural Cape Breton, Blue Rev looks both back at that country past and forward at an uncertain world, reckoning with what we lose whenever we make a choice about what we want to become.
Last month, Alvvays announced a 2022 fall tour, kicking off in Chicago this October and hitting just about every major U.S. market, with support from Slow Pulp. They’ll perform at Courtney Barnett’s Here and There Festival, also in Chicago, in August.
Listen to “Pharmacist” below, and find the details of Blue Rev and Alvvays’ tour dates further down.
Blue Rev Tracklist:
02. Easy On Your Own?
03. After The Earthquake
04. Tom Verlaine
06. Many Mirrors
07. Very Online Guy
09. Tile By Tile
10. Pomeranian Spinster
11. Belinda Says
12. Bored in Bristol
13. Lottery Noises
14. Fourth Figure
Blue Rev Art:
Alvvays Tour Dates:
16 – Chicago, IL @ Here and There Festival – The Salt Shed
14 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre $
15 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Ave. $
18 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot $
19 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory $
20 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom $
21 – Eugene, OR @ McDonald Theatre $
22 – Seattle, WA @ The Moore Theatre $
24 – Arcata, CA @ Arcata Theatre Lounge $
26 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore $
27 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore $
29 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern $
30 – San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park $
02 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater $
04 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall – Downstairs $
05 – Dallas, TX @ The Studio at The Factory $
07 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse $
08 – Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works $
09 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel $
11 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club $
12 – Philadelphia, PA @ Franklin Music Hall $
15 – New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall $
16 – New York, NY @ Kings Theater $
18 – Boston, MA @ Roadrunner $
($ – w/ Slow Pulp)