Here’s something both sensitive boy-bands and R&B slow-jam specialists know: heartbreak can be a turn-on. One of the go-to romantic moves for a skilled pop balladeer is to sidle up to the object of seduction and confess, with disarming sincerity, that he’s been deeply bruised by the end of another love affair. When sung with the proper passion and ennui, that pitch is irresistible.
LANY’s singer Paul Klein hits the “love me, I’m lost” note just right on the band’s self-titled debut. Over the course of three acclaimed EPs and now this new long-player — all recorded and released in the past three years — Klein and his electronica-loving cohorts Jake Goss and Les Priest have perfected an approach to synth-driven blue-eyed soul that’s both sonically sophisticated and endearingly direct. The trio’s music is as frank and unpretentious as a post on social media.
And like any good Twitter or Instagram feed, LANY is carefully curated, and poised to go viral. The band fills this hourlong record with 15 previously unheard songs, bringing back only their internet hit “ILYSB” (a.k.a “I love you so bad”). The latter track appears halfway through the album, and with its spare beat, slinky guitar, and casually conversational tone, serves as a keynote for LANY. LANY’s music has its roots in the ‘80s: in the mix of guitars and electric keyboards that bands like A Flock of Seagulls mastered; and in the smooth, radio-ready adult contemporary ballads of Hall & Oates. But the album isn’t stuck in the past. LANY is equally informed by modern pop and hip-hop, where the emphasis is on hooks as much as mood.
The trio makes the most of a unique dynamic, with instruments producing sounds that don’t exist in nature while Klein’s charmingly boyish voice coos lines like, “Oh my god I think I’m in love, the way we stay up late and talk about dumb stuff.” The relatable humanity of the lyrics sells these songs about desire and sorrow — and how they’re intertwined.
- Noel Murray
This review was written by Noel Murray. Noel Murray is a veteran pop culture critic whose writing about music, TV, and film has appeared in The A.V. Club, Rolling Stone, The Verge, and Vulture. He collects his work, here.