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I Love You Like A Brother (Caroline)

Maybe calling I Love You Like A Brother a lifesaver is pushing it, but I can verify that Alex Lahey’s debut is a serious antidote to serious glumness.

Coming back to her album this week in the midst of a dark few days I found myself switched from punishing to thrilled, from flat to ebullient, from care-less to care-free.

Good pop music can lift you; really good pop music can change what’s around you. And I Love You Like A Brother is really good pop music.

It has guitars and it has drums, which mostly come at you briskly, jumping out of their skins to get you to understand ok (then you can do it too) but sometimes just making moves with fuzz and drive that say how good is being able to just feel?.

It has stories about the shitty little things that dog a day (stupid exes; skin breaking out; Perth on the rebound) and stories about the big things that dot your life (a brother you once fought but now adore; making right choices about people; just how to keep love when you’ve found it?).

It has self-realisation rather than self-actualisation, observations rather than judgements, sympathy more than sniggering.

And it has tunes. Oh lordy yes it has tunes.

Backpack, even without its mid-song brass and turn to shoegazer grandeur (which quickly returns to bare bones), is a big song for its sheer gorgeousness, and I Want U earns immediate comparisons to Sandie Shaw and the Smiths.

Awkward Exchange updates Belly, both in its sway and a beaming bridge, and Let’s Call It A Day is a Brill Building song (the piano, the drama, the bassline) given some Primal Scream therapy for the most joyous of kiss-offs.

Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder pairs The Strokes’ narrow legged jeans with Blondie’s narrow tie for a busy but eminently hummable moment, while Lotto In Reverse is a checked flannie overshirt that doesn’t hide its Madonna True Blue under-T.

Even without an emphasis on a tune there’s energy and moves and hooks. The title track is a surf song for the skateboard set that doesn’t hide its pop zest in some faux punk outfit, and Every Day’s The Weekend makes your leg twitch within seconds and then thrusts your fist in the air by the chorus.

Lazy film reviews talk about feelgood movies, which generally mean cheap arse emotion jacked up with sugar. But Alex Lahey’s first full-length album is a proper feelgood record, fresh and full of life to remind you that happiness can be found not just waited on.

Trust me, it works a treat.

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