Lead by frontman Alexander Gow, Melbourne’s indie rock outfit Oh Mercy approach each of their albums with a different style in mind; the release of their fourth album When We Talk About Love is no exception. Previous works touch into fuzz-rock inspired poetry, pop-ridden acoustic works, and now, with the new release, a strong, Americana style graces the album. Gow spent the songwriting process travelling across the United States, and his longing for home and love burn slowly for the course of the album.
From the heartfelt “Without You”, straight through to the soulful closer “I Believe It”, each song tugs a different heartstring, and evokes a new emotion or memory, either of a former lover, a present one, or the hopes of a new one.
Guitar-oriented, the warm vibes originate early on with “I Don’t Really Wanna Know”, as Gow’s smooth vocals plead for distance and separation.
Perhaps it’s the right progression of notes, or the genuine desperation and longing in Gow’s voice; either way, the lead single “Sandy” generates an overwhelming sense of love-lost, and beautifully sends the listener to a point of no return, either by way of personal mistakes, or natural causes out of man’s control. Repeating “Sandy, come closer / a little closer / ooo a little closer” in the chorus becomes a heart-aching plea for one last try.
“Sandy is a fast song. Faster than the other ones. Or slower. It really just depends on how you count the bars. And which song you compare it to. Faster than a real slow song. Slower than a real fast one. Sandy is a stuck-in-the-middle kind of song. I wrote it in Nashville. I was walking to a Mexican restaurant. It’s about self loathing. And self loathing by way of resenting someone who loves you. Just for loving you! (what a world!!!). It’s a little about needing it. But wishing you didn’t need it. In the end you’re damn glad you got it.”
Softly transitioning into “Lady Eucalyptus”, the connection between Gow and his guitar strengthens before cruising into the retro-summer tracks “Let Me Be Him” and “If You Come Around Tonight”.
As powerful as “Sandy”, the piano ballad “Iron Cross” has Gow channelling his inner Rufus Wainwright for a dramatic performance backed by an equally theatrically string section before closing off the album with the folk rock love songs “All Roads Lead To You” and “I Believe It”.
Alexander Gow has put his heart and soul into his new record and it has certainly paid off; When We Talk About Love isn’t just an album about love, it moves deeper into the emotions of longing, regret, hope, and sincere admiration, accompanied by compelling musical performances from Gow and his band.
Enjoy the Virgin Suicides-esque music video for “Sandy” below and head to their website to buy the record.