Existential threat via the mundane on new Lou Terry single ‘Warmly, Alexandria’

Late night jams and tinnies in the bath are set in historical perspective on the title track from his forthcoming EP.

Photos: Louise Mason | Words: Lloyd Bolton

‘Warmly, Alexandria’ shuffles into view, clicking drums and crusted gentle electric guitar. In comes Lou Terry’s voice, swinging between softness and croak. Having won hearts with singles like the breathtaking ‘Rowan’s Advice’, one of the finest pieces of songwriting of the past few years, London-based Terry is gearing up to release a new collection, the Warmly, Alexandria EP.

The title track of this EP, released last Friday, is in a form Terry handles with particular confidence. A post-rock backing burbles in the background, while delicately woven lyrics drive the music. Terry possesses that great songwriter’s instinct toward balancing considered construction with the impression of making it up on the spot.  Lyrically, the song suits its sound, and is within touching distance of commenting on it. It’s late night back at the flat, the guitars are out, the last drinks of the night are kicking about. Terry muses on the existential threat of climate change with a guilty acknowledgement of the mañana attitude to its resolution by people wrapped up in their own lives. “It’s no good like this”.

The ‘Alexandria’ in question is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democrat congresswoman driving for a strong stance against climate change in Biden’s administration.  She is invoked here as a symbol of hope, an indication that we all have it within us to make a positive change, that we can reverse our present situation. At the same time, a globalised interest in and awareness of such a figure makes it feel as if she has walked in off of a blue late-night phone screen, anxiously watched.

There is a strong awareness of the overwhelming nature of the climate situation as it strikes you on a normal day, working through personal hang-ups and inadequacies. The building refrain captures an ambivalence to our historical moment, and is concerned by the historical role us people who have “tinnies in the bath” will play. As Terry sings, “Is it really up to us to be the last people to be?” Stripped of the glamour of a historical narrative, the real feels underwhelming, pathetic in the face of existential threat, an insistently historic moment. The jamming post-rock style of the song adds to this sense, expressive as the form is of a present, unadorned by pop design.

Through its invocation of Ocasio-Cortez, Terry manages to find hope through the hopelessness of the moment he describes. The tune balances our individual helplessness with an ongoing story, a candidate for heroism. The grand historical associations of the name Alexandria deepen this suggestion. Terry is a master of the bittersweet but always holds onto a defiant optimism. Here, he hopes for the aversion of climate disaster by mankind, in spite of our day-to-day selves.