13 September, 2015

[GIG REVIEW] Alvvays @ Concord 2, Brighton, 7th September 2015

Singer Molly Rankin pauses between songs and similes as she addresses the crowd; “Brighton is our favourite city in England ...it's where we played our first UK show...it's where we made our best friends”. A cheer makes its way through the packed venue. The Indie-Pop five-piece certainly seem to have a whole lot of the latter, and based on their performance it's easy to see why. Soaring melodies, rich textures and blisteringly tight musicianship are all woven into deceptively simplistic and subtle arrangements. The songs are beautiful and Alvvays were effortlessly brilliant in their delivery.

The band formed in 2012 as an extension of Rankin's solo efforts. Working alongside producers John Agnello, fellow Canadian Chad VanGaalen and Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh, they released their lavishly dreamy self titled début record last year. It was met with critical acclaim, described by Simon Vozick-Levinson in Rolling Stone as an "Indie-Pop wonder", reaching #1 on the US College Charts and winning a nomination for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize. Traveling via 90's DIY-Indie (Rankin cites Pavement, The Cranberries and Teenage Fanclub as major influences – tonight they even play a well worked cover of Kristy MacColl’s 1998 hit ‘He’s On The Beach'), the albums production manages to sit between lo-fi and lavish. Garage-Rock turned sugar sweet.

This is undeniably engrained into the bands overall sound, so I was hesitant as to how it would translate into a live performance. However, upon upbeat opener ‘Next of Kin’, it was easy to hear the band clearly had no problem in making it all work. The albums charm remained and grew; it soon became apparent that this was a live band that had translated well onto record, not the other way round. Rankin's voice swelling with an angelic tranquillity that lifted to impressive heights when called upon, yet retaining a consistent element of fun that is as equally suited to high ceilings as small sweaty clubs. Enchanting instrumentation that constantly built but never reached overkill; every chord, beat and note sounded like it had been meticulously picked for an effective reason.

Another dynamic shone just as bright: how much each band member was enjoying themselves. These guys have been friends since high school, they are riding a wave and having a great time - it came across in every upbeat riff and harmony. As a result, much like the record, Concord 2 bounced and swayed to an overall dance-ability that for the most part also managed remain sweetly delicate; in-between flurries of movement on stage, Alvvays were as cool their sound. From the carefree summer-pop jangle of 'Adult-Diversion' to heartfelt indie hit 'Archie Marry Me', the show was earnest, playful and spectacular - soaring yet somehow modest. I would dare anyone to watch and not wear a smile.

Watch / [YOUTUBE]