As a teenager living in Nova Scotia, Molly Rankin bought records by Teenage Fanclub and The Smiths. “That’s when I started writing guitar music,” she tells me over the phone. Now, Rankin’s band Alvvays (pronounced Always) comes to Eugene behind their delightful 2017 release Antisocialites.
Alvvays play a sometimes fuzzy, sometimes jingle-jangly style of indie rock: sweet but not sugary, snowy but still somehow warm. In the songs, it’s always magic hour, to be young is to feel a little bit dead inside and the objects of one’s desire must be avoided at all costs. It’s music for charming wallflowers with big vocabularies.
Rankin says she’s inspired by songwriters like Morrissey and Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields — artists who mix sadness with a dark sense of humor. “I like when people paint pictures with words,” she says.
“Do the tealights on your mantel / Illuminate that summer feeling?” Rankin sings on album track “Plimsoll Punks,” before throwing a little vinegar on the scene: “You’re the seashell in my sandal / that’s slicing up my feet.”
“I have a fairly melancholic disposition,” Rankin explains, stopping short of calling her songs autobiographical. With an album called Antisocialites, I’m curious if Rankin is herself a social person? “Not really,” she says. “I can be. It’s what adults do.”
The thing about smart and angsty young people, however, is that at heart they’re often hopeful romantics. Rankin agrees. “We’re all fairly linked to nature and space,” she says. “You have to be optimistic.”
Alvvays plays Eugene with Frankie Rose, formerly of Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and Beverly. The indie songwriter is touring her 2017 release, Cage Tropical.