Bad relationship choices and good songs

[ALBUM REVIEW: “LANY” by Lany (2017)]

Cover Photo Courtesy: Lucid Magazine

No matter what type of music you are into, I am certain that life has taken you to a variety of emotions far wider than the range of music genres you’ve listened to, so you could be into electronic pop right now but you would have days, particularly gloomy ones, that make you feel like breaking into a ballad which plays at the most unusual places you’d turn to for music…like the cab driver’s stereo, or the office guard’s cellphone on loud speaker. If you agree with me, then take time to listen to “Lany”, an American three-man band with a playlist that could easily be your alternative companion on gloomy, sunshiny or even “in-between” days.

“Lany” is actually an acronym for Los Angeles and New York, because members Paul Klein (lead vocals/keyboards/ guitar), Jake Goss (drums) and Les Priest (keyboards/guitar) were bouncing from L.A. to N.Y. and back while making music. But they say it’s pronounced as “Lay-nee”.

ilysb_1

(Photo Courtesy: Nova 96.9 – LANY’s performance in Nova’s Red Room)

They started out indie in 2014, got signed, toured the US, and the UK, and even passed by the Philippines early this year via a music festival. Through their relatively young career as a band, they’ve already put out four EPs, and released an actual full-length album yesterday, June 30.

If it’s too much to ask of you to listen to all four Lany EPs of the past three years, then just turn to their self-titled debut album. I’ll take you through it, but let me do it track-by-track, not that this is how I do reviews but because for this album, it’s the best way, okay? Okay.

First off, their music is classified by iTunes as “dream pop”, and they have embraced that.  Lany’s brand of dream pop works for me as a mood-setting music.   Oh you might say, “Music’s supposed to do that, all types of it, you idiot.” But theirs can take you to quite a few places — in a dream state, in an alternate reality, and sometimes, in limbo. Dream pop they say is hypnotic as it layers sound over sound over sound, in Lany’s case, keyboards, synths, guitars, and drum kits.

“Dumb Stuff” is hands down the best choice for an opening track, not that it’s a great song but it sets the mood for you. Think of it as an overture when the band’s about to start a gig. This track showcases what Lany’s brand of “dream pop” is about. The so-called sound layering is here. And as they did with the other tracks, the vocals here were immersed if not buried into those sounds, but it’s a good balance of everything, not one element sticks out like a sore thumb.

“The Breakup” is where I will elaborate on the lyrics, particularly on not paying attention to it (I’m actually a lyric freak if you’ve read my past reviews). The guys are not lyricsmiths, okay? Don’t rely on their words to find life’s meaning, especially if you’re as fragile as lead vocalist/main songwriter, Paul. I just assumed he’s faint-hearted because he writes like he’s always the one who’s more emotionally invested in a relationship. But there’s beauty in his honesty as a songwriter, and you’ll find it here somehow.

The lyrics to their songs are on their official website http:// thisislany.com.   Probably their way of saying they want you to sing their songs accurately in the shower, in your long drive, and more importantly at gigs like the millennial girls would while their phones are up their faces video recording the whole thing. To be fair, their music really lets you get lost in it that you’ll find yourself listening more to the absence of the words than the presence of it. So, don’t go to their website for lyrics, go there for photos of Paul instead, such a hottie.

“Super Far” gives me the “The Chainsmokers” feel. Yup, that EDM duo. This song is so easy on the ear you could sing-dance to it once it’s on, like you would to “Closer”.

“Overtime” takes me back to “Lany”, only this time, the beat takes over that I could barely understand what Paul meant by saying:

“You prayed to God and I trusted that
I gave it up and now I can’t ever get it back
And all your friends on Sunday morning
Do they have a clue? Wish I could have got a warning”

Whatever the heck you’re talking about here, Love, it’s okay. Come here, let me give you a hug.

“Flowers on the floor” is like…flowers on the floor, they’re an obstruction. Now kick them to the sides so you could make room for dancing because this is another dance-able track with a “new wave” feel to it.  Trust your heart that you could dance to it.

Track #6 entitled “Parents” is a non-song item on the album. It’s a 1-minute 18-second voicemail from the mother of Lany’s drummer, Jake. The charm of it they say, is in his mom’s deep Southern accent. Listen to it because it’s such an adorable message from a mom who’s obviously missing her son so bad because he’s so busy touring with his now famous band that she only gets to see him on Instagram.

“Parents” is also a breather, it helps you transition to the already familiar songs in the LP. I am speaking of “ILYSB” and “13” which they’ve put out even before releasing their debut.

“ILYSB” is such a hit now. It’s so catchy that it’s already one of the official female fan anthems at their gigs. It talks about how loving so deeply could also be painful sometimes. Yup, that sort of sh*t, you know.   But they were able to put that emotion in such convincing words:

“And you need to know
That nobody could take your place, your place

And you need to know
That I’m hella obsessed with your face, your face

Oh, my heart hurts so good
I love you, babe, so bad, so bad”

 

“13” is another charming piece. The little guitar parts deconstruct the straight up dream pop feel but it’s still as hypnotic eclectic as the other songs. Songs in dream pop style rarely use guitars, and when they do, they’re in stripped-down form.

The next song is called “Hericane”.   In the Philippines, we’re so used to weather people naming typhoons after women because it’s undeniable, we are exactly that, a strong force of nature. Is it our fault? “Hericane” is a fault-finding song eventually pointing towards a woman. It couldn’t be more obvious than that.   This again sounds so eclectic that if I had full ownership to this song I’d sell it to a Netflix sci-fi series producer who is casting a female lead.

Somebody once told me that Lany songs are for making out. I thought he was being upfront about a specific intention until I found out that Lany actually released an EP called “Make Out” in 2015. “Hurts” is probably one of those Lany songs for that purpose, and yes, that somebody recommends that you put it in your make out playlist if you have one.

Now what could have really happened to Paul or Jake or Les that made them put a song out there saying, “Good girls don’t exist, but I expected more than this…”? This line belongs to their song “Good Girls”, another track in the album that talks so painfully about being too much into someone but then they mask the pain with a really danceable tune. Listen and you just might dance to it too, especially if you also have a bad girlfriend story to tell.  Here’s a music vid for “Good Girls” which they released days before the launch of their debut album…

 

You know the verb phrase “flip one’s pancake” which means to turn someone on?   I actually paid attention to the lyrics but still, I have no way of telling if that’s the eff these Lany boys were trying to convey in the song “Pancakes”, but the song doesn’t do it for me, like the next track “Tampa” does! A sad voice of a supposedly grown man singing to you:

“Am I the only one who gives a shit?
But if I know myself, I know that I won’t quit
Paul, you should quit…

I can do better than this

I can do better than this…” — turns you on, Girl? Right?

If a 16-track album is too long for a moody listener who could also be suffering from a PMS, I’d drag “Purple Teeth” to its death…to the trash bin…out you go useless heartache. Hold on a sec, take “So, Soo Pretty” with you, I won’t have any use for it…a phone alarm perhaps? Okay that’s mean, sorry! They’re not bad. You know what’s really bad…the choices Paul Klein made when it comes to his relationships.   So bad he was able to make a good number of songs to vouch for it, like the final track, “It Was Love”.

You’d think of this poor guy as sweet as he declares:

“We were best friends but I have
Wanted you in different ways”

And then sweet guy turns stupid loser as he confesses:

“But it was two months until you
Started dating my best friend…
Never mind, this is stupid
But I just had to say
Even though I know you’re married
I think about you every day”

But it’s a lovely song, you’d want to play it in the bedroom where you will be hugging Paul as he cries himself to sleep, while you silently pray that he falls into a sweet dream he’d never wake up from so that no awful woman could ever hurt him again.

I’d definitely save this album on Spotify (I’m sharing a link, just scroll down) and go to their scheduled gigs here in Manila this August.  “Lany” by Lany delivered its dream pop promise, as if it made one.   It’s like a tangible dream — you had it last night, forgot about it in the morning, but don’t have to fret yourself about it as you know where in your brain’s (or smartphone’s) memory to retrieve it, to go over it again, and relive the experience.  This bedroom band should get a bigger room. ###