The world has been patiently waiting for the return of one of indie rock's most beloved and treasured bands. Today, Alvvays are pleased to be putting everyone out of their misery, announcing the new album Blue Rev which will be released via [PIAS] Australia on October 7.
At least the five-year wait was worthwhile: Blue Rev doesn’t simply reassert what’s always been great about Alvvays but instead reimagines it. They have, in part and sum, never been better. There are 14 songs on Blue Rev, making it not only the longest Alvvays album but also the most harmonically rich and lyrically provocative.
Alvvays are also releasing new song 'Pharmacist,' the first song on the album and an exciting jumping off point for what is sure to be one of the albums of the year.
Alvvays never intended to take five years to finish their third album, the nervy joyride that is the compulsively lovable Blue Rev. In fact, the band began writing and cutting its first bits soon after releasing 2017’s Antisocialites, that stunning sophomore record that confirmed the Toronto quintet’s status atop a new generation of winning and whip-smart indie rock.
Global lockdowns notwithstanding, circumstances both ordinary and entirely unpredictable stunted those sessions. Alvvays toured more than expected, a surefire interruption for a band that doesn’t write on the road. A watchful thief then broke into singer Molly Rankin’s apartment and swiped a recorder full of demos, one day before a basement flood nearly ruined all the band’s gear. They subsequently lost a rhythm section and, due to border closures, couldn’t rehearse for months with their masterful new one, drummer Sheridan Riley and bassist Abbey Blackwell.
The songs of Blue Rev thrive on immediacy and intricacy, so good on first listen that the subsequent spins where you hear all the details are an inevitability. This perfectly dovetailed sound stems from an unorthodox—and, for Alvvays, wholly surprising—recording process, unlike anything they’ve ever done. Alvvays are fans of fastidious demos, making maps of new tunes so complete they might as well have topographical contour lines.
But in October 2021, when they arrived at a Los Angeles studio with fellow Canadian Shawn Everett, he urged them to forget the careful planning they’d done and just play the stuff, straight to tape. On the second day, they ripped through Blue Rev front-to-back twice, pausing only 15 seconds between songs and only 30 minutes between full album takes. And then, as Everett has done on recent albums by The War on Drugs and Kacey Musgraves, he spent an obsessive amount of time alongside Alvvays filling in the cracks, roughing up the surfaces, and mixing the results.
Every element of Alvvays leveled up in the long interim between albums: Riley is a classic dynamo of a drummer, with the power of a rock deity and the finesse of a jazz pedigree. Their roommate, in-demand bassist Blackwell, finds the center of a song and entrenches it. Keyboardist Kerri MacLellan joined Rankin and guitarist Alec O’Hanley to write more this time, reinforcing the band’s collective quest to break patterns heard on their first two albums.