Nicky Boy – July 29th
It’s fair to say that we like Melbourne and 2015 was a definite banner year for the city on the international stage with Twerps, Dick Diver, Fraser A Gorman and Courtney Barnett all making massive inroads in Britain and beyond. But with an enviable talent pool and a habit of not resting on its laurels, so the city is already unleashing its next wave of potential stars while last year’s dust still hangs in the air. Emblematic of the current crop of erudite, articulate brand of Australian songwriters is Alex Lahey, who’s fired her opening salvo courtesy of début EP, B-Grade University.
Straight from the off, Lahey sets out her stall with impressive efficiency via ‘Ivy League’. With a mean gift with a wry turn of phrase and a keen eye for a good hook, she possesses the ability to turn her own struggles and self-doubt into something truly anthemic (just try and not sing along with the rousing “woah-oh!” at the end of the chorus). Having detailed her concerns at future prospects, she also proves herself adept at documenting the minefield of love via the pulsing, yearning ‘Let’s Go Out’ and the subtly subtly muscular and reflective ‘Wes Anderson’; former sees her imploring the subject to “act like we’re alone tonight”, the latter offering reassurance that “every day with you’s my lucky day”. Breakout hit ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’ is manna from heaven for anyone mourning the disappearance of peak-period Ida Maria. A windows down, drivetime staple of a fuzzpop gem, it sees Lahey rail against a game-playing partner, turning her annoyance at hesitancy and refusal to commit into something empowering, to fantastic effect. A welcome breather after the intense high of ‘You Don’t Think…’ the breezy, real Estate-esque ‘L L L Leave Me Own’ pours scorn on a former beau who, as Lahey stops her demand for space to notice, has a “new girlfriend that looks a lot like me”.
You can’t help but suspect that there are going to be a lot of comparisons to Courtney Barnett coming Lahey’s way as her stature grows – both have a warm, conversational style and an ability to convey their own experiences in a relatable manner (not to mention the fact they were the same age when they released their first EP…). But while Lahey isn’t likely to go shunning those comparisons, she’s also succeeded in carving out her own niche. If Barnett detailed the suburban anxieties of someone their mid-late twenties devastatingly well, and The Goon Sax have covered teen angst with surprising worldliness, then Lahey lies somewhere in between. Whether discussing post-uni career choices or getting a handle on her personal life, she encapsulates the uncertainty of the early 20s, just-out-of-uni millennial, filtered through the great Australian songwriting trick of taking the personal and turning it into something universal. It might be too early to properly crown Lahey as the next great Aussie export hope, but on this evidence she’s certainly not doing her case any harm.
Stream: Alex Lahey – B-Grade University