Search The Line of Best Fit
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Alex The Astronaut’s joyful How to Grow a Sunflower Under Water channels euphoric liberation

"How To Grow A Sunflower Under Water"

Release date: 22 July 2022
Alex the astronaut sunflower art
18 July 2022, 08:30 Written by Simon Heavisides
Liberation is a wonderful thing. Freeing yourself from self imposed and/or societal restrictions and controls is a sure fire way to dramatically improve your mental health and doesn’t it just feel like pure exhilaration?

Don’t get me wrong, How to Grow a Sunflower Under Water is no therapy session, but with her second album Sydney’s Alex The Astronaut has managed to successfully distill this feeling and inject it into a series of joyful, sky scraping indie-pop songs.

Alex Lynn also gets what T. S. Elliott meant when he agonised over whether or not to "disturb the universe", the appreciation of the enormity of life’s small steps that can feel so steeped in meaning and fraught with danger that they seem insurmountable. If Sunflower has a message it could well be as simple as, ‘do it: now!’

Bringing the highly personal into your art is all well and good, but if it’s so specifically ‘you’ then it can risk keeping the listener at arms length. Lynn faces this head on, yes the details are real but they act to prompt the audience to locate equivalents in their own lives. A tough trick to pull off, but she does it again and again.

Euphoric single, “Haircut” is the purest example of her expertise in action. A lyric that deftly describes the social anxiety hanging over what, to others, may seem like incremental movements towards recognising your true self wedded to a tune giddy with the joy (and relief) of finally feeling free to express your sexuality. It’s powerful stuff but no outlier on an album crammed with such moments.

From the word go, the plangent fiddle-driven golden Go-Betweens rush of “Growing Up’ sweeps all before it. Rewind and note the Go-Betweens reference: it’s not dropped in an act of wishful thinking as is so often the case. Cynicism be damned, yes this is technically indie pop classicism but it feels so box-fresh and full of genuine lived experience and emotion that resistance would be churlish and ultimately futile. Pushing the envelope is all well and good but there should always be a place where ability so joyfully applied is valued just as highly. It's time to welcome Alex the Astronaut into your orbit.

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