Today’s Song: “Pharmacist” Signals an Impressive, Long-Awaited Return for Alvvays

Alvvays © Eleanor Petry
Alvvays © Eleanor Petry
The sometimes-elusive, always-meticulous Canadian indie rockers return with a retro-tinged, reverb-drenched single “Pharmacist,” one of two tracks out now off Alvvays’ forthcoming album, ‘Blue Rev.’
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Stream: “Pharmacist” – Alvvays

Listening to Alvvays has, from the very start, been a bit like stepping into a time machine.

In an era that, at the time, was mostly awash in waves of dubstep and endless DJ sets, the band crafted instantly catchy hooks with roots in zippy, jangly ‘60s-esque rock and power pop.

The sound has, pun intended, always been unmistakably the band’s own, evidenced by two memorable, endlessly listenable and critically acclaimed LPs (2014’s self-titled debut and 2017’s equally impressive Antisocialites).

Of course, that critical acclaim also translated into a rather rabid fandom, the kind that turned them into cult heroes (thanks to certified 2010s classic “Archie, Marry Me”) and eventually led to opening dates for the likes of The National and The Strokes (not to mention plenty of sold-out headlining dates in the band’s own right).

The group’s focus on emotionally touching albums in an era of viral, flash-in-the-pan hits makes its rise to indie stardom all the more impressive. But it begs the question: What does indie stardom mean now in the 2020s?

If lead single “Pharmacist” is any indication, it means that there’s still a place for the care and meticulous thought that goes into the shimmering, hazy sonic blueprint of an Alvvays album.

And indie stardom also means earning the right to work with producer extraordinaire Shawn Everett (lately of The War on Drugs, Kacey Musgraves and Local Natives), who teamed up with the band to record the forthcoming album last October in Los Angeles.

I know you’re back
I saw your sister at the pharmacy
Picking up
Said you had that new love glow
Now that you’re here
I want to wake up on the right side
Looking back
Getting out of neutral new track
You know it happens all the time, it’s alright
I hear it happens all the time
– “Pharmacist,” Alvvays

Everett’s influence has no doubt had an impact on songs like “Pharmacist,” a heavier, guitar-driven ode off Blue Rev (out October 7th on Polyvinyl Records).

The album was a long time gestating, thanks to the loss-via-robbery of Molly Rankin demos from the singer’s apartment, not to mention extensive touring in support of Antisocialites. Add in turnover within the band – plus a not-so-opportune pandemic – and an interminable wait (for fans, at least) grew exponentially.

As fate would have it, bassist Abbey Blackwell replaced longtime member Brian Murphy in the meantime and joined Alvvays opening for The Strokes in the fall of 2021, a milestone show for the group.

Blue Rev - Alvvays
Blue Rev – Alvvays

Naturally, the five-year period between LPs led to near-daily speculation on social media among assorted Alvvays faithful, especially over the past year – when exactly would a new Alvvays album arrive?

The band tends to take long breaks between social media posts, so any activity is rightfully greeted with fervor and enthusiasm (take it from this writer), and the Alvvays hype machine has whirred back into gear across summer 2022.

The long-awaited and oft-discussed return feels like reaching a shimmering oasis in the desert, yet it’s not just a mirage.

The well-received “Pharmacist” is drenched in reverb and packs an almost shoegaze-tinged wallop, and it does so rather incredibly in just over two minutes:

Now that you’re here
I wanna wake up on the right side looking back
Getting out of neutral new track

The single sounds as tight and melodic as ever, and Sheridan Riley’s work behind the kit continues to drive home the point that the post-Antisocialites addition is a natural fit with Alvvays (if ever you’ve seen the band live, you know there was never a doubt with Riley).

Alvvays © Eleanor Petry
Alvvays © Eleanor Petry

“Pharmacist” was recently joined in short order by the August release of “Easy On Your Own?”, another remarkable track that speaks to the band’s consistency (and hints at, hopefully, another standout LP).

I dropped out, college education’s a dull knife
If you don’t believe in the lettered life
Then maybe this is our only try
And how I gauge, whether this is stasis or change
Fill out the requirements on the page
And burn out before you can get paid
‘Cause we’re always
Crawling in monochromatic hallways
Dream we pull a one-eighty some day
If you don’t like it, well
Say it’s over, well
Weekends alone
– “Easy On Your Own?” Alvvays

Alvvays crazed fans will have the chance to see it all firsthand for themselves when the band embarks on an extensive U.S. tour kicking off October 14th in Chicago.

Make no mistake: Alvvays are back and better than ever.

And as cliche as that might sound, it’s enough to make you smile and shake your head in wonder. It’s as if they never left, isn’t it?

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:: stream/purchase Alvvays here ::
“Easy on Your Own?” & “Pharmacist” – Alvvays

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Blue Rev - Alvvays

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