The debut album from Alex Lynn (aka Alex The Astronaut) has been some time in coming. Part of the new wave of Australian music ushered in by Courtney Barnett, Lynn has been recording songs since 2017, with her track Not Worth Hiding becoming the unofficial anthem of the Australian Equal Marriage Referendum of that year.
Any early adopters of Lynn may be disappointed to see seven of the 10 tracks on The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing have been released in some form before. But while there aren’t many surprises for long-term fans, it does make the perfect introduction to a songwriter of unusual heart.
For practically every track on this debut feels like a warm hug – from the affirmation of friendship on I Think You’re Great to the comfort of watching Harry Potter grow older on film in Split The Sky, it’s an album that’s impossible not to relate to. That’s not to say that Lynn doesn’t have a dark side: she’s equally adept at documenting the sadder, sometimes devastating aspects of life.
For instance, I Like To Dance is one of the most affecting portrayals of domestic abuse that you’ll hear all year. A stark ballad which begins as a description of the loved-up rush of a new relationship (“My friends were jealous of me… he held me close”), but soon takes a darker turn when Lynn softly sings “I just wish he’d stop”. She also manages to perfectly describe the trap that such women find themselves in with lines like “You scream ‘why don’t you leave’, my kids are two and three”.
Despite its title, Happy Song also has a sadder side to it as it sees Lynn out on the town after a relationship breakdown, as “Tonight I need a happy song…. you know that I love you but I think it’s over”. Lost is a sensitively written account of a teenage couple’s experience of abortion, and Split The Sky looks at the uncertainty of growing up and ageing into adulthood, using the Harry Potter films as a mark of how quick you’re growing older.
Amongst all this though, Lynn never forgets that she’s writing pop songs, first and foremost. There’s an epic sweep to the piano-led Christmas In July, and the chorus of Banksia could almost be made for swaying along to in a stadium or arena. Best of all is I Think You’re Great, which is almost four minutes of pure joy, an infectious ode to friendship that never seems to get old no matter how often you play it.
After the closing San Francisco, there’s a little spoken word outro from Lynn thanking us for listening to the album and saying she hopes we enjoyed it. It’s the sort of ridiculously charming touch that makes The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing such an enjoyable listen, and why Alex The Astronaut is a name that is very much worth keeping an eye on.