Who said science and the arts can’t go hand-in-hand? At a time where everyone is being told that STEM is more important than the arts, it’s the Venn diagrams like Alex The Astronaut that help put everything into perspective. Equal parts scientist and musician, Alex The Astronaut has taken a few years to put to her debut album The Theory of Absolutely Nothing together. But, all things considered, it’s been worth the wait.
After releasing a string of overwhelmingly well-received and timely singles (stemming mainly from her two EPs), the artist formerly known as Alex Lynn has taken her time to piece together ten songs that I’m going to assume will not only represent her life over the past couple of years, but almost definitely represent anyone else who listens to it.
The first real take away from TTOAN is how long Alex has been drip-feeding us her album. With seven of the ten songs having already either been released as singles or made their way onto streaming services, there’s every chance you’re already fully aware of how great Alex’s songwriting, lyricism and general ability to create a pop-driven masterpiece is.
Opening up with the downbeat, charming and aptly titled “Happy Song”, a song about the time in a relationship where you know it’s time to move on as you look forward to a brighter future, the album starts off on a positive note and for the most part, doesn’t miss too many after it. For an artist who until recently only started playing live with a band, many of the songs on TTOAN tend to lend themselves to a more wholesome and filled sound. “Lost” has an irregular level of brewing atmosphere to it, while there is an unparalleled level of optimism on “Split the Sky”, as Alex tries to explain that time in everyone’s life where everything feels a little messed up and back to front.
Touching on the more serious moments of life, from domestic abuse to death, Alex isn’t concerned with covering content that some other artists will shy away from. From the all too real context of “I like to Dance”, to the album pinnacle “Banksia”, Alex is effortless in creating moments that will genuinely pull at the heartstrings. With it being a staple in her live set for a while now, it’s truly great that Alex has chosen to have “Banksia” represented on the album. While a truly devastating moment, it really showcases Alex’s ability to paint vivid pictures of sadness, grief and love.
The sadness tinged yet hopeful “Christmas in July” explores finding new love, while “Caught in the Middle” seemingly is a cry for attention and longing to be reassured. One of the better and genuinely pure songs of 2020 “I Think You’re Great” is another peak on an already stellar album. Written to remind a friend that it’s ok to not be so alright and to let people know that you’re not travelling the best, “I Think You’re Great” should be the one song everyone can listen to and have a happy cry as you do the dishes in the kitchen sink.
Closing out on the earnest and honest “San Francisco”, The Theory of Absolutely Nothing is a wave of unbridled emotion. It covers the entire spectrum of the human psyche, whilst genuinely leaving the listener in a better place at the end than they were at the beginning. Alex The Astronaut masterfully intertwines her lived experiences with those of her peers, and helps the listener realise that love, loss, happiness and hope can’t be explained purely or independently by either science or the arts.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Theory of Absolutely Nothing is out Friday 21 August.