Published Aug 17, 2014Montreal venue La Vitrola opened its doors this past April, and already is playing host to a bright roster of emerging acts, hopefully so that patrons, in the years to come, can regale their friends with tales including the phrase "I saw them play La Vitrola way back when…"
The latest crew to add to La Vitrola's increasing roster of "I knew them whens" include Alvvays, the dreamy indie pop quintet whose members include Molly Rankin, of family folk band the Rankin Family, and Alec O'Hanley, formerly of PEI power-pop group Two Hours Traffic. Alvvays' fuzzy, blissed-out tunes are less upbeat than those from Rankin's folky folks and O'Hanley's old outfit, but feature a similarly poppy undercurrent that allows Alvvays to stand out amongst their peers.
For their first headlining performance since signing to Polyvinyl Record Co. and releasing their self-titled debut, Alvvays managed to pack the diminutive space, with a tight crowd slightly swaying to the quintet's fuzzy pop. With early-set hit "Adult Diversion," Alvvays quickly demonstrated their penchant for being simultaneously peppy and chilled, with nice, dance-y hooks slathered with a layer of sonic haze — partially due to a malfunctioning keyboard, but also due to lots of reverb.
Despite her airy tone and the aforementioned reverb, Rankin's voice is still strong enough to stand out like a lighthouse beacon, providing an occasionally inescapable centrepiece that carried through the cramped space. Rankin's band mates share her talent, with tight, well-rehearsed instrumentation. Of note were Brian Murphy's bouncing, sprightly bass lines that helped keep the songs chugging along, and Phil MacIsaac's simple and dependable drum beats.
A midset highlight was "Atop a Cake," with O'Hanley and Rankin's jangly guitars adding a nice hook to their harmonized shout of "What's it gotta do with you? What's it gotta do with me?" The song's perky vibes contrasted with the tranquil "Dives," which sounds like a Beach House song if Victoria Legrand sang an octave higher.
The band wrapped up with their two strongest tunes: "Party Police" and infectious lead single, "Archie, Marry Me." "Party Police" featured the most effective usage of keyboardist Kerri MacLellan's synth, adding a nice, atmospheric punch during the bridge that really bolstered the band's sound. "Archie, Marry Me," undoubtedly the band's most popular song, got the 200-strong La Vitrola crowd swaying and head-bopping, and even procured some singing along from the timid and stoic crowd. The set wrapped after a scant 45 minutes and no encore, but that was enough to cement Alvvays as a band to watch as they further develop their sound and repertoire.
Read our recent cover story on Alvvays here.