Twee-pop still remains an under-appreciated genre. How many times have you heard the adjective ‘twee’ used as a pejorative? Probably more times than as a genre tag I’d wager. And yet twee-pop (or indie-pop as it was known then) was and remains a crucial stepping stone between Punk Rock and Indie Rock in Rock n’ Roll history. Still not convinced? If it’s good enough for Kurt Cobain, you can bet it’s good enough for you.
Alvvays may have a minimal resemblance to Belle & Sebastian and Wes Anderson, but there is an innocence and purity of spirit that marks them out as distinctly twee. They are one of the bands who in recent years have revived the spirit of Tallulah and Company, infusing the attitude of the early twee-poppers with a strong sense of song-craft and, in this case, elements of indie and power-pop.
This strategy clearly works for them, as tonight The Bodega is the busiest I’ve seen it. The crowd is pretty quiet but openers Moon King get a good crowd and reception with their engaging brand of reverb-soaked gloom-pop, starting the evening off nicely before the headliners. By the time Alvvays are set to come on, the only way to get a decent view would be to stage-dive, and there is a strong sense of anticipation among the crowd to do just that.
The rather unassuming band step out onto the stage and start playing with a minimum of fuss; they were tight but to my dismay I could’t hear the vocals. They must sort something out though because by the second song the singer’s voice is clear and they sound just like on record except.. better. They rattle through a succession of songs from their wonderful self-titled album (an album that makes you wonder if this isn’t their first rodeo), including the blog favourite ‘Archie, Marry Me’, which demonstrates an endearingly blunt response to people who object to marriage on moral and financial grounds – a defiant shout of ‘MARRY ME’ directed at the objector. Although you could suggest that this is a rather immature reaction to a complicated situation, it’s also a rather refreshing approach given the darker outlook of some of their peers.
But it isn’t the emotional maturity of a young band that the crowd have come to see; it’s hook-crammed pop songs, and with the odd bit of chatting to fill the space between songs. Alvvays expertly picked their way through an excellent set that never dragged, and all too soon they reached their final song. In a perfect expression of the nature of their performance (which was needless to say faultless), they ended on a high note with ‘Adult Diversion’, to my money the perfect encapsulation of their sound.
Although it’s a little hard to tell, Alvvays left with the distinct impression of a job well done and sent the groggy Monday night crowd home with the sound of delicious twee pop ringing in their ears. On tonight’s evidence, you’d say that this often derided genre is in rude health.
By Kieran Hallam