15. Alvvays, Antisocialites (Royal Mountain)
The big criticism when Molly Rankin and Alvvays modestly burst on to the scene in 2015 was that while it was nice and pleasantly twee, what was the bloody point when bands like Camera Obscura already did all that so well? It’s a typical refrain among a lot of indie-centric writers who can’t be bothered to show any respect to artists who stick to one formula and focus on perfecting that sound like its progenitors did. If it’s not new, if it doesn’t have a sense of novelty to it, especially by album number two, they’ll just lose interest and move on to other trends. In the end, all that doesn’t matter because Alvvays’ second album is a revelation. Where the debut album was cute in its shyness and its lo-fi production, Rankin and her bandmates are exponentially more confident. The production is more luxuriant, the arrangements have a lot more nuance, the songwriting takes more risks, and best of all, after a couple years of touring Rankin’s singing is so much stronger and more confident. Track after track hits that sweet spot that Camera Obscura nailed time and time again, from “in Undertwo”, to “Plimsoll Punks”, to the bouncy “Hey”, to the shimmering, Kirsty MacColl-esque “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”. The way Alvvays pulls this album off, it all feels so effortless, but creating a record so loaded with indie-pop hooks shows a special level of talent and skill that few artists possess.