“He looks like marble, but he tastes like granite/hard as a rock and I’m rolling right over,” sings Molly Rankin about a toxic relationship on her 2010 debut EP, She. Immediately, the stone-ribbed lyrics highlight her affinity for tales of bad romances with a sense of self-deprecation. According to Rankin, lead singer of breakout Toronto-based indie quintet Alvvays (pronounced Always), she’s always found a sense of comfort in debauchery.
“I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the subject matter can be quite dark and that maybe I’m a bit of a dark person,” she says. “But I’ve always sort of counteracted it with a hint of humour. That’s just sort of how I [dealt with things] growing up.”
Raised on the east coast island of Cape Breton, NS, Rankin was born into the world-famous Canadian Celtic folk band The Rankin Family. Daughter to one of the group’s founding members, the late John Morris, she was taught by her father how to play the fiddle and piano before penning songs of her own as a teen.
[pullquote]”My music will always be referred back to where I’m from, and I don’t think it will ever leave.”[/pullquote]
“I was writing songs when I was in Grade 10 because I was bored,” Rankin recalls. “One of the first songs I ever wrote was for an audition to be in this Mamma Mia play for high school.”
After a brief stint at Dalhousie University for theatre, Rankin left school to join her family for a cross-Canada tour before branching off to pursue a career outside of folk. Through a mutual friend, Rankin would meet Alec O’Hanley (guitar) who would help write her solo EP and introduce Brian Murphy (bass) and Philip MacIsaac (drums).
Realizing their musical chemistry, Rankin and O’Hanley continued work on new music after her EP was released, and as the concept of their songs grew it became clear their ideas were better suited for a band. Already resistant to being typecast as a singer-songwriter, Rankin welcomed the idea of coming together as a group. Shortly after, she would coerce childhood friend Kerri MacLellan (keyboardist) to tag along and the band would travel to Calgary, AB to work with Chad VanGaalen for their debut.
Taking shape in the form of nine songs, their self-titled debut is a sunny, lo-fi collection of, as Rankin puts it, “nice poppy bangers.” “Adult Diversion” and “Party Police” pair dreamy Best Coast-sounding surf rock with Rankin’s sharp storytelling and subtle yet inescapable Scottish lilt—both of which she believes stem from her Celtic roots.
“[Celtic music] is deeply ingrained in my genetic makeup and upbringing given the way I speak and pronounce words in songs. [My music] will always be referred back to where I’m from and I don’t think it will ever leave.”
[magazine month=”August” year=”2014″]