|2022||Blue Rev||Alvvays||★★★½||68||Rock||Indie Pop||Deam Pop|
Blue Rev on the surface has everything you’d look for in an Alvvays album. It’s composed of 14 cute dream pop songs that mix in a bit of indie rock energy. There are some fun guitar runs, some big choruses, some atmospheric bridge sections and Molly Rankin’s vocals are warm and welcoming, as always. There’s something comforting about the band’s somewhat predictable style and consistent musicianship.
But Blue Rev sounds almost too perfectly crafted to be what an Alvvays album is meant to be, which takes away from some of the charm or organic originality that was there on past records. The production elements feel really deliberate and professional sounding, making the instrumental mixing overall is a little flat in dynamics and closer to a shoegaze fuzz than the lighter, dreamy mix on Alvvay’s first two records.
The band also doesn’t show as much individuality across the different musical lines. You get a few songs like “After the Earthquake” and “Pressed” that give you dueling guitar riffs or a quick drum beat, but for the most part everything feels like it’s working in unison. And Rankin’s vocals — usually front and center in the past — get a little buried behind the mix on tracks like “Belinda Says,” which, although it is my favorite track on the record, takes some of that bedroom-pop intimacy away.
Almost every song here is good and the band stays true to themselves in spirit and overall sound, so the album’s a triumph. But the bunch of tracks as a whole is lacking the top-level, memorable moments and some of those smaller elements that their best songs in the past brought, making the whole experience a little underwhelming in comparison.