Saturday, July 16, 2022

Alvvays return with short yet powerful lead single ‘Pharmacist’

Toronto’s Alvvays are back with new single ‘Pharmacist’. Dipping into a more experimental version of their classic bedroom pop sound, the single is the opening track off their upcoming album ‘Blue Rev’, the band’s first album in five years.  

Alvvays (pronounced "always") feature Molly Rankin (vocals and guitar), Kerri MacLellan (keyboards), Alec O'Hanley (guitars), Abbey Blackwell (bass), and Sheridan Riley (drums). Their self-titled debut album, released in 2014, topped the US college charts, whilst their second studio album, 'Antisocialites', released in September 2017, would go on to win the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year. Their new album 'Blue Rev' will be out on October 7th. 


Lyrically, ‘Pharmacist’ deals with the story of a pharmacy run-in with an ex-partner's relative. However, these lyrical details don't necessarily portray a clear narrative, and in fact the whole atmosphere of the track is shrouded in a cloudy sense of confusion. This is the band pushing their sound into a more shoegaze direction, focusing less on lyrical details, and more on creating a soundscape of haziness. It’s clear the band have been taking cues from My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless… and it works so well. 


Shawn Everitt’s (The War on Drugs, Big Thief) production uses all of the sonic imagery you would expect; chorus-drenched fuzzy guitars, 80s Linndrum samples and larger-than-life reverb on absolutely everything. Despite this overwhelming soundscape, reassurance is delivered through Molly Rankin’s chorus “I hear it happens all the time”. This dichotomy of cloudy instrumentation combined with direct lyricism works effectively and ensures the listener is never overwhelmed. 


‘Pharmacist’ could be seen by some as an overblown pastiche of 80s' dream pop. However, Alvvays use these classic references and combine them with their own songwriting style and vocal delivery to create an impactful lead single. 


Alvvays are back, and pushing the boundaries of what bedroom pop can be. 

Euan Blackman 

@euanblackman (IG)  

@euan_blackman (Twitter) 

Image: Eleanor Petry 

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