Alex Lahey rocks. Plain and simple.
As she showcased on her earworm debut EP B-Grade University, the Australian pop punker has a knack for insanely catchy melodies mixed with a Ben Folds/Lily Allen level lyrical wit. Her tales of young love, self-worth, and dreams – both lifelong and daily – provided a clear, fun and completely endearing introduction to a confident new voice in rock.
This strong debut turned out to be a double edged sword – it allowed Lahey to leap into the conversation with an instant and well-worthy buzz, but also set high expectations for what was next to come. With that in mind, her debut full-length I Love You Like A Brother, out now via Dead Oceans, almost lives up to the hype.
Lahey continues to showcase what she does best – namely, head-bopping hooks and funny, heart-on-sleeve lyrics – while performing these tricks of the trade on a grander scale. She’s upped the production value on certain tracks – namely album midpoint “Backpack”, incorporating horns into a grandiose arrangement that doesn’t necessarily work with her generally modest approach, as if she lost control of the hired orchestra halfway through. Opening track “Every Day’s The Weekend”, however, is the perfect bridge between the EP and Brother, bringing us melodies strong as anything on the EP, even if the lyric’s aren’t immediately as full-force.
Standout track “Lotto In Reverse” is a loud, highly danceable indie rock banger that brings out the very best Lahey has to offer, while “I Want U” shows a softer, poppier side to the artist while fully fitting into her overall zeitgeist. Closing track “There’s No Money” sees her experimenting with a drum machine loop under trademark lyrical honesty, sharing with us the economic insecurity and fear that certainly plagues a deal of her generation. The production on certain tracks doesn’t feel as sharp as desired – namely the reverb-y vocals of “Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder” – whereas others keep her voice clear and centered, keeping her strong lyricism on display.
Overall, I Love You Like A Brother is a strong debut from an even stronger artist. Alex Lahey strikes the perfect balance between musical confidence and “just like you” personality, allowing it to feel like she has your back at all times, a buddy who just kind of “gets it”, and someone who is there to figure it out with you, as long as you do the same for them.
Indie Rock | Dead Oceans