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Judy G.

CD of The Week

Week of 5/22/23

    Alex Lahey - The Answer is Always Yes (Liberation)

    We became fans of Australian singer-songwriter Alex Lahey with her debut EP, B-Grade University, in 2016. Since then, Lahey’s batting average has been outstanding when it comes to clever, catchy pop-rock songcraft. She’s back with her third full-length album, The Answer is Always Yes, delivering more slice-of-life storytelling, sharp wit and emotional honesty all wrapped in great guitar hooks.

    Alex sets the scene with album opener “Good Time,” a fun track about getting out of the lockdown era with people that are a bit eager to return to having fun who have “forgotten how to talk but never shut up.” The first song we heard from TAIAY was “Congratulations,” a mid-tempo rocker reckoning with an ex getting married (actually inspired by two exes of hers getting hitched in a row in real life).

    The rollercoaster of relationships is a constant theme in Alex’s songs, including “You’ll Never Get Your Money Back” and “On the Way Down,” a pair of perfect crunchy rockers. On the other end of things emotionally is “Makes Me Sick,” which is actually a term of endearment here, as in “I like you so much it makes me sick.”

    Two true highlights are “Shit Talkin’” and “They Wouldn’t Let Me In.” The former is a great encapsulation of social anxiety. Set to a flawless power-pop tune, Lahey worries about what others are saying about her and second guesses leaving the house at all, emotions that are exacerbated more so in these pandemic times. And “They Wouldn’t Let Me In” finds Alex revisiting ways she felt left out of life as a queer teen, built around post-punk, Gang of Four-influenced guitars that are truly different than anything else on the record.

    The title track wraps up TAIAY with her mission station of saying “yes” to life, amidst wry observations while riding in a hybrid car and planning an expensive trip. All the while, she hopes for a better future, rather than the yearning to go back to 2019 that so many people have. “I don't want it all to be/The way it was before it changed/I don't want it all to be/The way it was.”

    Alex collaborated with a number of other songwriters on The Answer is Always Yes, including producer Jackknife Lee, Ali Barter and Tancred’s Jess Abbott, among others. However, it’s all clearly her vision and POV through and through. She’s still all-in on saying “yes” to big guitars, bright melodies and rock and roll.

    Alex Lahey returns to Philadelphia on June 9th at Johnny Brenda’s. Vote for this week’s Top 11 @ 11 and enter to win tickets. And listen to Alex’s recent Y-Not Radio Takeover here.
    Review by Joey O.

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