For those who aren’t familiar with LANY, their debut album comes as just that: a debut. An exciting new album to listen to, a new artist to discover.
For those who are familiar with LANY, their debut album comes as a moment of excitement, that breath of finally. (Even described as “FINALLY” by lead singer Paul Jason Klein himself in the newsletter they sent out release day).
LANY had gained hype over the past few years, initially after they put up tracks “Hot Lights” and “Walk Away” on Soundcloud in 2014, no name attached to them other than LANY. Those tracks eventually led to their track “ILYSB,” which is a sleeper hit waiting to happen. Jul. 1 of this year is its third birthday. So this review comes with a bonus: HAPPY THIRD BIRTHDAY TO THE ACRONYMS EP AND SINGLE “ILYSB”!!
With the 3-year-old “ILYSB” as the lead single finally garnering some radio play, the new singles “Good Girls,” “The Breakup,” “It Was Love,” “13,” and “Super Far” gave long time LANY fans a wider range of expectation for their debut.
For anyone who has extensively listened to LANY’s catalogue, and enjoyed their blend of ‘80s influenced pop and ‘90s R&B vibes, their self-titled debut will be welcomed with that feeling of seeing a best friend after a long trip — one which lasted over three years. It’s the embrace from that friend after being apart for so long. Falling into the comfort of each other and re-hearing some stories from before, though this time with more exposition. It’s that feeling of your best friend making you drop everything to join them on their ongoing adventure, losing yourself in the experiences they had, and hoping for something better in their future. With the occasional crossing of paths – from the kinda EP to the Acronyms EP – their full-length debut is finally meeting that best friend again.
Starting off the album is the fan favourite “Dumb Stuff”; With bright synths, you can feel that this shimmering track is that classic honeymoon phase of the album. The sound of rain flowing in the background, even with the line “come on take my hand baby, dance in this pouring rain,” you still feel like it isn’t going to be a completely happy story. Another gem in the short track is “‘cause what we’ve got is like a movie and I’m not above a dumb cliche.” The line opens the album in an honest, self-aware tone, giving room for the romantic movie-like cliches found later on.
That being said, this album in no way is a rom-com. With the singles released leading up to the debut, LANY has made it very clear from the get-go that this is an album inspired by that adolescent “first love” experience, moving through the motions of breakup and makeup, eventually leading to post-breakup.
Shifting through the album, you gain insight into each instance of defeat, the back and forth between both parties in the relationship, unable to fully return to that honeymoon phase, though still woefully attempting to.
Reputations destroyed and fast falls can be found in “The Breakup.” A lack of mutual compassion and investment are heard on “Super Far,” a long distance romance gone wrong. Pride and the refusal to let go come into play on “Overtime.” Each one of these tracks showcases the wrongdoings that can often occur in a relationship, the clash of two people over and over.
Optimism attempts to open the door in “Flowers On The Floor,” a sure cry for appreciation to re-emerge. But it doesn’t last very long, and if it wasn’t evident already, this relationship is dangerously toxic, to the point where fighting is a regular occurrence and the emotional abuse leads to starvation. The kind of starvation which comes in many forms. “It’s been about a week since I’ve had a bite and it’s starting to show, / the bones above my cheeks are gonna break the skin if ya try to let me go,” Klein sings.
After dropping four heart-wrenching songs, LANY pauses the pretty synth lines and Klein’s airy vocals. Granting a visit from an old friend for fans – but the most enthusiastic and somewhat jarringly happy one-eighty that could be made mid-album.
“Parents” greets listeners with a glimpse into the mind of Susan Goss, the mother of LANY’s drummer Jake Goss. The voicemail — interlude, if you may — is reminiscent of LANY’s second release in 2014 on their Acronyms EP, “(OMG)” where Goss’ mother can be heard sweetly asking if LANY has written a song dedicated to her.
On “Parents,” she’s back again, though this time, excitedly gushing over an Instagram post Jake made of a new tattoo:
“jakecgoss: suuuup. parents are important. love you steve and susan g!”
Though somewhat jarring, hearing her enthusiasm and sweet Southern drawl makes it impossible not to smile while listening. “Parents” easily ends off Act One in the story of this relationship, driving home that search for comfort and love.
At the beginning of what we’ll call Act Two, “ILYSB” appears, finally with a more cohesive place to put the song. The video LANY released earlier this year, in the context of a full-bodied story of love-sick adolescence, returns to the idea of that honeymoon phase, which is quickly realised to be one-sided.
Act Two is about acceptance and the movement of guilt and blame. It’s the step back from the original relationship to see the full picture, still wondering where exactly things went wrong at first in “13,” but eventually realising through “Hericane.” “Hurts” starts that feeling of self-reflection, along with little surprise references to older songs, such as “pink skies.”
“Good Girls” was the first new single from the album, and it teeters on the edge of “things are kind of alright, but not really.” Followed by “Pancakes,” Klein can be heard crooning for that honeymoon moment again, promising 2 A.M. pancakes, champagne, vintage jeans, and film photography.
“Tampa” is a cry for the end, it’s accepting that you deserve better, that though it hurts to let someone go, it’s important that you do, even if you keep coming back to them. It’s the realization in your heart that things aren’t meant to work out, that you can do better for your own sanity.
Though that cry has happened, “Purple Teeth” bounces back, dragging Klein through even more turmoil, and the knowledge it isn’t set in stone is evident: “I slept in my clothes ’cause I’m too scared of us, and I know what I lost in those previous months.”
“So, Soo Pretty” is the wordless, final acceptance. That though this relationship is something so beautiful to Klein, it’s time for the end of the late night calls, the end of the pleas to take him back, the end of apologizing for nothing.
“It Was Love” ends off the album in a mournful reflection, a timeline of Klein’s first love. Wishing to hold on, but knowing he can’t.
As a whole, LANY is a soundscape of warm, windy days spent with the windows down, singing along in the hot haze of summer. Lyrically, it’s cold evenings with your best friend, curled up, spent over-analyzing each moment, wallowing in the pain of losing your first love.
LANY achieve what they set out to do: give fans the best form of LANY on their first full-length release, one to narrate that young, film-like first love experience.
(simply for a jarring voicemail, which evidently will win you over anyway.)
“Flowers On The Floor”
(Feature Image: Polydor Records)
(Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BH80zghghyX/ )