The daughter of Canadian folk royal John Morris Rankin of The Rankin Family, Molly Rankin's Alvvays project shares a certain snowed-in charm with the tunes of her father. There's a deep sense of comfort and nostalgic identification in Alvvays, one that stems from the way in which the music of Rankin's past moves her in the present. To be sure, the quintet's self-titled debut album on Polyvinyl has some kitschy Canadian folk elements—didgeridoo anyone? But for the most part, it's gorgeously glowing lo-fi indie pop. This is indie pop from the Great North, however, so don't expect the sunshine feel of Best Coast or Surfer Blood. Rather than the 'sunny' descriptor that so often gets pinned to the genre, the Alvvays brand, in all its insular huddled warmth and slow drama, would more aptly be described as snowy.
With only one album to their credit thus far, these adventurous Canadian youngsters have released videos for the album's positively infectious first two singles: "Adult Diversion" and "Archie, Marry Me." As they hone their craft through the winter, these two songs in particular will be ubiquitous in their set and on the college radio chart. And who could be mad at that? The singles are shimmering examples of coolly emotive music that celebrates the various ways in which we seek to kill the boredom of our youth, only to long for it again as we age. "Archie, Marry Me" is a masterfully produced tune that showcases the deep pockets of yellow light within Rankin's voice, and the way in which the band's sound fills your head without cluttering it up. For youthful popsters, Alvvays sure seems to have learned the lessons of precision, balance and direct melody.
The album's coyly reserved and patient approach was certainly crafted in part by an all-star cast of producers, including Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh, fellow Canadian and pop experimentalist Chad VanGaalen and John Agnello, who's worked with Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr. and Thurston Moore. This is a show we'd highly recommend as a perfect way to while away the early winter chills and catch a new act in all the earnest and accidental perfection of its rise.
Alvvays feat. Absolutely Free, $5-$10, 8pm Thu, Nov 20, 502 Bar, 502 Embassy Oaks, (210) 257-8125, 502bar.com