Paul Klein, leading man of LANY, turned twenty-nine this past April.
During what is arguably one of the most influential decades of your life, Klein and fellow bandmates Les Priest and Jake Goss, have had their hands in many pots, from attending music colleges, to Priest and Goss trying to work on a musical duo project together entitled WRLDS, to Klein crashing the partnership when he realized the complete dissatisfaction he was having as a solo act covering other artists' tracks. Flying out to Nashville from Los Angeles, the trio began work on what would become LANY — a nod to their desire to have their music extend from coast to coast (Los Angeles to New York).
Shortly after releasing their first songs, the group's R&B-influenced pop tracks about love experiences drew the attention of major record labels and audiences alike around the world, despite the band having a small internet presence (their first profile picture featured Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson instead of themselves). Their work was compiled together in a series of EPs and brought them on tour with the likes of Troye Sivan, Ellie Goulding, Halsey, and X Ambassadors.
After signing with Polydor Records, the band started work on a full-length release while also heading out on a world tour and basking in the success of their single "ILYSB." Fifteen months, 117 shows, and twelve countries later, with serious breaks taken in between to write and record, their eponymous debut has arrived.
Rather than simply scrapbooking the strongest tracks from their EPs in a project, the band was adamant in their desire to write and record new material and put in the due amount of time for the record, hence its lengthy production time. In some ways, this extended production time is evident in the final product. The album definitely shows its fair amount of growing pains, none the least of which being its hour-long runtime feels a little indulgent for the genre. It's a byproduct of an exploratory first time. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Musically, the album is a success. There is no doubt that there will be an inclination to dance to most tracks. The opening track, "Dumb Stuff," blends EDM influences with pop music in an accessible fashion for those who might not be inclined toward either genre. "Flowers on the Floor" has one of the catchiest chord progressions I've come across as of late, immediately inducing moving in your seat to the beat, where again genre elements cross over. LANY masters this over and over again, from their most recent "Good Girls" to "The Breakup."
Lyrically is where the band struggles. The insights LANY delivers are about as much as any young woman can hope to get from her clueless twenty-something boyfriend, which isn't much. They sound kind of sweet, but when broken down, are really kind of lame and hollow. It's a toss up in deciding whether there is something commendable in the efforts put forth to capture the exact dialogue and ridiculousness of so many twentysomething relationships, or if there's no need for any more attention drawn to this as television shows like Master of None and Girls have showcased this dysfunctionality (arguably, better) already. Do we need this again in music, or do we need something more raw and emotional, like the detail-oriented debut of Cigarettes After Sex?
You need not look further than the titles to support this case. Starting an album with a song literally discussing the desire to talk about "Dumb Stuff" with a girl you're into makes it hard to take the relationship seriously. The extended metaphors and plays on words don't help. The band's frequent use of acronyms, combined with playful spellings on "Hericane" and "So, Soo Pretty" show the band's age, and for Klein, who was trying to get away from playing the songs of Harry Styles and company, it's awfully risky territory.
Some parts of the album make it feel annoyingly diaristic rather than detailed and clever as such material should. This is particularly true for the interludes between the bigger tracks. Preluding "ILYSB," the band's most popular track to date, with a voicemail remarking what you must assume is band member Goss's tattoo is humorous between bandmates, but does little for listeners in a body of work about what it's like to be young and in love.
The struggle of describing relationships offers enough trouble. Again, the age of these confessions shines through in waves of immaturity. In, "Overtime," Klein sings, "This can't be the end / If it ends like this, you win," making you beg what this argument is that it's so important for him to win? This dissipates into complete silliness the further you dwell in the album, like on "Pancakes" which sings about eating them with champagne and connecting with someone, I think, or "Purple Teeth," delivering a montage of sleeping in your clothes at a party but not fully wanting to commit to something. It's the sort of ridiculousness that their audience will relate to...for now.
Endurance is where LANY must fear. The final track, "It Was Love," seems to say that each of these instances depicted on the album's tracks were, in some sense, a form of love, however fleeting. It tells a specific story, but seems to speak largely for what the band is trying to show on their debut. And they do, but they do so in a way that is not going to permeate. These songs will perform on the road because they're a delight to listen to, but they will perform less well in the hearts of listeners until the band's material works to grow up a little bit more.
LANY is available now via Polydor Records.