On the eve of the release of their second album ‘Antisocialites’, Canadian dream-poppers Alvvays (pronounced “Always”, as you would imagine) are stopping off at the wonderful Gorilla to give us a preview of their new material. Not having heard anything from the new LP but the couple of singles they’ve released over the last few months, I’m excited to see what they have in store as their self titled debut album is one of the finest examples of indie pop of the last several years. Fronted by Molly Rankin, the band specialise in songs that make me wish I had experienced an American college education where I could go to prom and dance to them as they play on stage: in this imaginary reality of mine, it would be just like 10 Things I Hate About You (greatest Shakespeare adaptation ever, don’t @ me). They’re a nostalgic band for a time I never had and have only experienced through movies, and I love them for it.

However, there’s something not quite right about the first, new-album-heavy half of the gig. The room is rammed, and it feels like expectations are sky high, but apart from the brilliant ‘Adult Diversion’, there’s a lot of new songs that no one can sing along and get into, because we’ve never heard them before. It’s not their fault that they’re touring an album that isn’t out yet, and the new songs like ‘Lollipop’, ‘Plimsoll Punks’ and ‘In Undertow’ are warmly received, but it’s not the electric, hands in the air, voices adjoined in adulation atmosphere I was hoping for. That is until the older songs come out and the gig changes into something akin to the party atmosphere I was expecting.

It starts as ‘Atop A Cake’ kicks in, carries on through the beautiful ‘One Who Loves You’, and peaks with their biggest hits, ‘Archie, Marry Me’ and ‘Party Police’, where the crowd as one chant the words back to Rankin perfectly. ‘One Who Loves You’ is my personal favourite, a melody so sweet masking lyrics about getting out of a relationship sharpish: “when the wheels come off, I’ll be an astronaut, I will be lost in space, I’ll be on Lippincott’. It’s perfect, and it’s that moment in the American teen movie where the love goes sour and everything’s a bit mournful. ‘Archie, Marry Me’ on the other hand, is the triumphant end scene where love shines through and the couple embrace and kiss as the camera spins around them and upwards into the night, the possibilities of the future feeling endless. ‘Party Police’ is the scene at the house party where the slightly alternative kids realise this isn’t for them but decide to get fucked up anyway because that’s the only thing to do: “you don’t have to leave, you could just stay here with me, forget all the party police, we can find comfort in debauchery”. It’s such an incredible run of songs, and the crowd reaction is palpably louder, and it’s edging towards the kind of gig I was expecting.

The encore gives the crowd what they want in the shape of the raucous ‘Next of Kin’, which is basically a big drowning metaphor for a relationship where one of the couple just can’t keep up: “if I knew he couldn’t swim, I would never have gone in…” It’s a nod and a wink of a song and it gets the entire crowd moving in unison, with something like an incredibly polite mosh pit forming near the front. The band look like they’re having a great time, and acknowledge the energy in the audience – it’s sweet to see their reaction to our enthusiasm. I cant wait to spend time with their new album, the songs they’ve played tonight sound very promising, I just wish the gig had been a week later so we all could have appreciated them that little bit more.

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