Written for The Music Fix.
You could say that music runs in Molly Rankin’s blood as the Alvvays front-woman is the daughter of John Morris Rankin from early nineties country group, The Rankin Family. It would seem that’s where the family influence stops though, as her band instead take a lead from the likes of Camera Obscura and Belle and Sebastian with their twee vocals, catchy hooks and down to earth lyrics. Songs like ‘Archie Marry Me’ and ‘Next of Kin’ caught the attention of stations like 6 Music early on and have propelled the band to critical acclaim, with their debut album on many end-of-year lists.
Although they haven’t seen any real mainstream success in the UK, the Canadians’ self-titled effort was a huge hit with switched on listeners, securing them a string of mostly sold out shows for their first ever European tour. As they announce that this is their first visit to Manchester, Rankin makes the obligatory reference to the city’s music heritage, joking about how her first Oasis CD was the rather turgid Heathen Chemistry but “I worked my way backwards after that.”
Even though they might be new to most, it’s clear that this is a group that have been playing together for some time; they frequently exchange knowing looks and their performance is tight with little room for mistakes. With only one album of material to fill the set, all the jangly hits get an airing and they pad things out with a cover of obscure Deerhunter b-side ‘Nosebleed’. Their style works brilliantly with the song and it’s a great opportunity to show off those harmonies as guitarist Alec O’Hanley and keyboard player Kerri MacLellan join in.
The 10pm curfew comes as a surprise even to the band, although they acknowledge how considerate it is on a work night. The excitable crowd were in no hurry to head home so another cover (The Primitives‘ ‘Out Of Reach’) helps round things out. The response suggests that the Alvvays formula is one that many would be happy to see over here again soon.