Album Reviews

Alex Lahey – The Answer Is Always Yes

(Liberation) UK release date: 19 May 2023

With relatable lyrics and tunes with more hooks than your average fisherman’s bag, here could be the next big crossover act from Australia

Alex Lahey - The Answer Is Always Yes Australia has always been fervent ground for new musical talent, but in the last few years it seems as if there’s a whole new wave of Australian talent developing in the Southern Hemisphere. Since Courtney Barnett‘s breakthrough alone, we’ve seen the likes of Stella Donnelly and Julia Jacklin going from strength to strength. Now we can add the name Alex Lahey to the list.

The Answer Is Always Yes is actually Lahey’s third album, but she’s flown a bit under the radar so far. This is the record that’s guaranteed to change all that, as it’s a record bursting with so much confidence and instantly likeable songs that it already sounds like a hit.

It’s an album with a more collaborative approach than before, with names like Irish super-producer Jacknife Lee and Melbourne musician Ali Barter amongst the co-writing credits. And from the opening line of Good Time – “everyone’s a bit fucked up but they think they’re ok”, it’s clear that Lahey has honed her already impressive musical voice into something truly special.

Good Time is indictive of the sound of the album as a whole – there’s big guitars, singalong choruses and impressive harmonies scattered throughout, and sometimes Lahey sounds a bit like a more punky version of Sheryl Crow. It’s her lyrics that set her apart from the crowd though: she’s a dab hand at creating little stories in her songs, such as The Sky Is Falling where she gets high with a drug dealer, talks about conspiracies like Jeffrey Epstein’s fate, while listening to “Michael Bolton on repeat”.

There’s also some more personal matters touched upon – Congratulations is the bittersweet, scuzzy lyrical cousin to Adele‘s Someone Like You, where Lahey wishes her ex all the best on their forthcoming nuptials (“So happy for your perfect life, there’s something in my eye, I’m doing just fine without you”), while They Wouldn’t Let Me In is an anthem for anyone who’s ever felt difficulty in fitting into the world (“I couldn’t get into the group chat, mind map”).

Due to her nationality and a sometimes similar vocal style, Lahey is bound to be compared to Courtney Barnett by some, but there are also nods to some more surprising names. Avril Lavigne is brought to mind on On The Way Down for example, while Shit Talkin’ is the best power-pop anthem about social anxiety that you’re likely to hear all year, with lines like “maybe they’re just racking up, all the ways that I fucked up”.

Although Lahey’s music is immediate and accessible, these are also songs that have a depth to them that keeps you coming back, whether it be a big epic stadium ballad like Makes Me Sick or Permanent’s disgruntled complaint about her neighbour’s guitar playing (“It’s just the same three fucking chords” – Lahey is, in a typically Australian way, very sweary).

With relatable lyrics and tunes with more hooks than your average fisherman’s bag, there’s no reason why The Answer Is Always Yes shouldn’t turn Alex Lahey into the next big crossover act from Australia. Get in early before she becomes stratospheric.

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Alex Lahey – The Answer Is Always Yes