LANY Makes a Debut Album Perfect for Millennials

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While LANY is arguably referred to as an alternative band, one thing is for sure — they are the epitomical sound of the millennial generation. From their lyricism to their composition to their song titles, this synth-laden album checks all the boxes for mass appeal to teens and 20-somethings.

So far, the trio’s self-titled album has received mixed reviews, and understandably so, considering the album does nothing to venture beyond the unoriginal themes of heartache and heartbreak. Lead singer Paul Klein himself sings “I’m not above a good cliché” mixed between the repeating phrase of “oh my god” in the opening track “Dumb Stuff.” Have I mentioned how millennialy identifiable this album is yet?

LANY’s lyrics are so replete with generational colloquialisms, it’s hard to tell if they’re intended to be sardonic or sincere. Either way, considering the average age of their fan base, at the very least, the lyricism is relatable to their demographic, although hardly timeless.

Considering I’ve been following LANY for about a year now, and am surrounded by people who are as enamored with the trio as Klein seems to be about whatever enigmatic love interest he sings his heart out to, you would think I would share a similar sentiment. But I have to admit, the jury has been out for me on this band ever since the first time I listened to “ILYSB.” (Really, the millennial references are just unrelenting.)

Because of this, I tend to think of this band in two separate lights — from a youthful perspective gripping onto the nostalgia of adolescent love, and from the cynical view of someone who is grown enough to know that romantic woes are far from the most significant problems plaguing humanity.

So, in the spirit of a critically mixed reception, I’m going to mix it up a bit more. Below I will provide track-by-track commentary with both a favorable and a critical review for each song in terms that their collegiate aged fan base can understand — on a credit/no credit basis. Is LANY being given too much credit or not enough? Let’s see:

[While I’m aware that the lyrics are not necessarily entirely reflective of Klein, for writing purposes I will refer to him by name when addressing lyrical content.]

 

1 – Dumb Stuff

Credit: Klein reminisces about how the smallest gestures and interactions can feel significant when you’re in love.

No credit: The reference to staying up, talking about “dumb stuff” trivializes real intimacy and connection.

2 – The Breakup

Credit: Klein laments taking a relationship for granted and realizing his mistake as loneliness consumes him after breaking up. {“You think you wanna be, you wanna be alone / Just wait until you’re crying on the shower floor.”}

No Credit: The basis of the relationship is on physical attraction rather than a deep connection while Klein seems perplexed as to why he feels unfulfilled. {“They’ve got a pretty face / but they’ve got a pretty empty head.”} The reference to “they” implying this is frequently his problem in relationships.

3 – Super Far

No credit: Klein’s habit of chasing vapid, self-absorbed girls is apparent once again as he agonizes over a lover who neglects his affection. {“Got me begging for affection / All you do is roll your eyes.”}

Credit: He finally appears to come to the understanding that chasing pretty girls with empty heads is his problem, although without demonstrating any resolve to find a more meaningful connection. {“Broken down, I’ve had enough / If this is love, I don’t want it.”}

4 – Overtime

Credit: While synths are the main instrumental feature on the entire album, they provide a pleasantly understated rhythm to make them the outstanding quality of this track.

No Credit: In a song that doesn’t offer much to grasp onto lyrically, the line “shot down when our souls began to dance” really just puts the nail in the coffin.

5 – Flowers On The Floor

Credit: The repetition of “flowers on the floor” really drives the sentiment of a sweet gesture turned sour. As the song develops, “flowers on the floor” is revealed to be a metaphor for Klein’s longing and sentiments being poured out on the floor in vain.

No Credit: The repetition of the phrase “flowers on the floor” takes a back seat to the repeated theme of, yet again, a girl who is so self-absorbed, she enjoys witnessing Klein pining for her without reciprocation. {“Spilling all my guts and I think you kind of love it.”}

6 – Parents

Credit: The voicemail track from drummer Jake Goss’s mom appears an endearing and sentimental tribute to family and their supportive home base.

No Credit: They’re charging $1.29 for a voicemail recording.

7 – ILYSB

Credit: The transition of the line “oh my heart hurts so good” to just “oh my heart hurts”  echoing at the close of the song provides a subtle indicator of how butterflies can turn to knots in your stomach as a relationship progresses.

No Credit: The frivolous lyrics of “You need to know that I’m hella obsessed with your face” becoming a tedious slogan for the inarticulate millennial.

***It is worth noting that the stripped version of this song offers a significantly more soulful and sincere-sounding interpretation.

8 – 13

Credit: This track is the high point of the album for me. The synths are put on pause to give way to simplistic, yet expressive electric guitar picking, allowing Klein’s crooning to come off thoughtful and genuine.

No Credit: The ’90s-sounding drum track sounds a bit cheesy and negates the thoughtfulness of the song.

9 – Hericane

I’m sorry, we’re just…. we’re just not going to talk about this one.

10 – Hurts

Credit: “Honestly, it’s me / I am so messed up.” I mean… at least he admits it. Klein appears to cope with his confusion as to what he wants, feeling unfulfilled in an endless loop of all-consuming relationships.

No Credit: “Here I am again / Back to my old ways” Yes, Paul. Yes you are. And so are we, because you are taking us along with you in this loop of repeating sentiments.

11 – Good Girls

Credit: This song is likely the most danceable track on the album. Lyrics such as “making more than love on the west side of town” and “you know better that nothing is better than what we’ve built together at home” show a level of commitment and connection deeper than Klein expressed in any of the other previous songs.

No Credit: The noticeably more mature lyrics are easily lost in the bouncing synths and funky bass line, not that it’s sonically disappointing. It just seems wasteful on an album that is lacking on other tracks.

12 – Pancakes

Credit: The minimal percussive track is set low in the background and the synths float in synchronization with Klein’s reverberated vocals to really emphasize the lyrics.

No Credit: Too bad the song is composed of mostly nonsensical lyrics like “the way those old Levi’s look on you / got me thinking, damn I’m in” and the repetition of “oooh-ooh-hoo / that’s the way my heart feels” in the chorus.

13 – Tampa

Credit: The sound of defeat cloaks Klein’s voice as he anticipates the “welcome home” of a girlfriend who has been lying while he’s been out on the road. The track builds as his repeated mantra of “I can do better than this” transforms from solemn confession to hopeful declaration.

No Credit: It’s one of the more forgettable tracks on the album with not much content to sustain the listener.

14 – Purple Teeth

Credit: Klein creates a metaphor of sleeping in his clothes as a physical barrier to protect himself from being vulnerable in a previously failed relationship.

No Credit: Besides the fact that Klein has, once again, put himself in a hostile relationship {“Perplexed on the porch ’cause you hate what I do”}, the style of synths in this song sound a little too ’90s video gamey for my taste.

15 – So, Soo Pretty

Credit: Another high point of the album is bolstered by the minimal production… and no vocals. The open-pedaled piano melody flutters beautifully over a subtle hum and gentle percussion.

[I initially forgot to include a No Credit commentary, and I think I’ll leave it that way.]

16 – It Was Love

Credit: The pinnacle of romantic nostalgia, Klein reminisces about his first real young love — passing notes in class and the naiveté of thinking it would last forever.

No Credit: Maybe it was only love for him if he hated that it ended and she only waited a couple of weeks before dating his best friend. Anyone else sensing a trend here?

 

WELL there you have it — track by track. I have to admit I spent a lot more time with this album than I had ever anticipated, and bounced between loving and hating it more times than I can count. It feels as if I’ve been through an emotionally exhausting relationship and am still confused as to where I stand. I guess that means I came out understanding LANY’S debut album better than I thought. Well played boys.

[Photo from LANY’s pop-up shop in Los Angeles]

[All photos are my own unless otherwise stated.]

 

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