New To Us – Alex Lahey

Both photos by Kane Gibbered

Alex Lahey is a 24-year-old, songwriter, former university saxophone player, solo artist and Australian.

There’s something delightfully primal about Alex’s take on indie-rock; stunningly catchy choruses, resplendent with blistering guitar work, and a bright, breezy and incredibly energetic production style.  Lyrically, Alex tends to muse on issues that are easily written off as millennial problems, but in reality are highly relatable tales of tricky relationships, wondering where you life is headed, and finding your feet in the world.

Alex is from Melbourne, the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Victoria. Australia’s second most populous city, Melbourne is home to over 4.5million residents, or Melburnians as they’re know. Due to a laudable array of entertainment, excellent education facilities and sport, amongst other factors, The Economist Intelligence Unit has named Melbourne as the most liveable city in the world for six years running – although this did lead to stinging repost from the New York Times who suggested that, “The Economist clearly equates livability with speaking English”. Melbourne is known as Australia’s cultural capital, and is regarded as having one of the finest live music scenes in the world. Famous musical residents include Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue and Dame Nellie Melba, who lifted her stage-surname from the city.

Alex has been playing music for many years, but it was whilst at University and hating studying the Saxophone, that she decided to drop out and concentrate on songwriting. Alex self-released her debut EP, B-Grade University last Summer, which has since been picked up, and re-released by the excellent Dead Oceans imprint.

For those who lived through university life, while not entirely sure what they were doing there, and that’s probably quite a lot of us, Alex’s EP will definitely strike a chord. From wondering what good a degree will do you, to misguided romantic trysts and often just wanting to stick a film on and drift into some much-needed escapism, this is very much a snapshot of life in your early 20’s.

The most obviously University led track is the opening number, Ivy League. Kicking the album off with a huge wall of drums and distorted electric guitars, Ivy League finds Alex recalling her days at, “a B-grade university” and questioning how life would be different if she was a straight A’s student, asking, “if I was an Ivy League kind of girl, do you think they’d give me more shifts at work?” Musically there’s a touch of Weezer, as Alex goes on to question the whole system we’re all expected to run through, noting with an unspoken scorn, “I’ll be a workplace dreamboat. Job interviews – I know it all, I’ll be so damn employable”.

From there the EP seems to run through a serious of snapshots of relationships. Let’s Go Out, is a friendship threatening to blossom into something else, Alex reminiscing about, “the time we slept together, and we just slept, and your girlfriend dumped you anyway”. Wes Anderson is a chiming 80’s pop song in the mould of Flock Of Dimes, that seems to do that most unlikely indie-rock song trick of actually being quite happy, as Alex sings, “every day with you is my lucky day.”

Elsewhere, closing track, L-L-L-Leave Me Alone, is an irrepressible pop-song with a touch of Allo Darlin’. It melds an unforgettably catchy chorus, with a wonderfully meandering 60’s-pop styled guitar line, and a lyrical kiss-off that, “if you’ve moved on then leave me alone”. Best of all might just be the Diet Cig-like, You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me, a recollection of a lover who keeps coming back despite saying it’s going nowhere, Alex recalling, “in the morning through your sleepy eyes, you tell me that I’m not for you”. It’s just a wonderful slice of sophisticated pop music, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Why Not?
This kind of bright, breezy power-pop has certainly been done before, but for sheer enjoyment, and those fist-in the air, scream along to every word moments, it’s a stunning first release.

B-Grade University is out now via Dead Oceans. Catch Alex Lahey on tour in the UK right now – click HERE for details.

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