All Our Exes Live In Texas – When We Fall
Sydney quartet All Our Exes Live In Texas are one of those almost infuriatingly talented groups. You know, the type who just execute everything perfectly. Not a note out of place. Not a single shred of vulnerability in their voices. Not a moment where they’ve packed too much into their arrangement.
This makes for some beautiful music, but does it mask the emotion that lies within?
On their debut album When We Fall, they become the latest in the new breed of country/folk singer-songwriters to find value in a juxtaposition of emotions. Because these are not happy songs.
The regret that permeates through ‘The Devil’s Part’ is dark, the wasted time and emotional exhaustion expressed in ‘Tell Me’ is heartbreaking and surely we all relate to the forlorn realisation of gentrification that ‘Childhood Home’ expresses so strongly.
‘I’m Gonna Get My Heart Cut Out’ is clever and relatable, and ‘Boundary Road’ is a brilliant open-ended narrative told in a mere handful of words. The album is full of deeply emotional, but highly intelligent writing.
When every note is so impeccable, it means that emotion may be lost to the superficial listener. Does that really matter? Probably not. But it’s an interesting method of approaching such sad songs. Would they be more powerful if they sounded more disjointed, out of shape, or just plain wrong? We’ll never know.
This record is kind of like those people who somehow look incredible, even though they’re in the midst of an emotional breakdown. You know there’s pain there, but it’s so hard to see it beyond the veneer of perfection that you just presume everything is okay. But the lyrics here tell us that it is not.
Fans of bands like The Avett Brothers or The Civil Wars will revel in the perfect harmonies, and the lavish arrangements adorned with handclaps, accordion and mandolin are wonderful ear candy. Just be sure to make the effort to dig into those lyrics, though. Otherwise you’re not getting the most out of this record.
A band of any age would consider When We Fall a monumentally accomplished album, as a debut it’s astounding. Perhaps future records will see them inject a bit more grit into their sound, in which case they will be unstoppable.