I'm not crying you're crying
California three piece LANY have returned with their third studio album Mama’s Boy. 2018’s Malibu Nights saw frontman and songwriter Paul Klein at his most honest, weaving together nine tracks of heartbreak and loneliness. Malibu was a solid project, with excellent input from Mike Crossey (The 1975, Foals, Twenty One Pilots) but it felt like the entire project was held up by only a handful of standout tracks.
Mama’s Boy doesn't stray too far from the themes of LANY’s previous output. Klein continues to use the band as a diary, with his smooth whispery vocals singing bittersweet lyrics but absolutely infectious melodies. The LP kicks off with ‘you!’, a top-tier slice of indie pop rock reminiscent of Coldplay’s bold and heart-breaking ‘Yellow’ (they even mention them on ‘when you’re drunk’). This opener is full of big guitars and delicious layers of dreamy pads and synths. The chorus melody is fantastic. Klein has never been one for cryptic lyrics, and his upfront approach may not be to everyone’s taste (if you are a connoisseur of extravagant, intellectual lyrics then this probably isn’t the band for you).
LANY mainly tone it down from here. ‘cowboy in LA’ is a cute cut, gently bobbing along with some tasteful guitar work weaving throughout it. The entire project revolves around Klein looking back on his upbringing and life retrospectively. Raised in Oklahoma, Klein describes solid relationships with his parents and wanting to be a true gentleman with his partners. The Oklahoma influence is also obvious on this project. A few tracks have a slight country twang musically, and there are some instances of slide guitar which mesh beautifully with the soundscapes rather than sounding naff and cheesy. The lead single ‘good guys’, like all the tracks on this project, is a total ear worm, combining light synths, acoustic guitars and some excellent drumming by Jake Goss. Goss’ drumming throughout this project is reserved and understated but compliments every track very well.
A personal highlight for me is ‘anything 4 u’. The piano riff is pure ear candy, especially when supported by foundations of swelling synths and a steady backbeat. It is a track full of hurt, and covers so much that many will empathise with from their own experiences. The closer, ‘nobody else’ is a (now standard) acoustic sad finisher. The plucky riff reminds me of ‘Cherry’ by Harry Styles, and some more country pop flair cuts through on this one.
Mama’s Boy’s biggest downfall is the length. For a pop record of this style it is a little bloated, coming in at a whopping fifty minutes (Malibu Nights was only thirty three). LANY fall into the trap of recycling a formula (but on the other hand, why reinvent the wheel?) and a few tracks fall a little flat compared to others - most notably ‘sad’ and ‘bad news’.
One of the weaker cuts on Mama’s Boy is ‘i still talk to jesus’. The chord progression is very traditional and the gospel backing vocals are immediately reminiscent of The 1975 doing the same thing on 2016’s ‘I like it when you sleep...’ Lyrically, ‘jesus’ might be the weakest. It’s an intimate cut but rhyming ‘marijuana’ with ‘I do what I wanna’ just seems a little immature and lazy, as well as the ‘hallelujah amazing grace’ refrain.
LANY’s third studio album is easily their best. The production on every track is stellar and the performances are very strong all round. The trio create a sunset-soaked, nostalgic atmosphere on Mama’s Boy and the listener truly feels part of Klein’s journey of self reflection. While a couple of tracks do seem a bit like filler, the track listing is mostly rock-solid. Mama’s Boy is by no means groundbreaking but it does what it does exceptionally well. LANY continue to stick to their guns but cross into rock and country territory, and they absolute nail it. The whole experience is relaxing yet heartbreaking as the band cross from big arena-ready anthems to ballads for a lonely evening. For any pop or indie fans, Mama’s Boy is a must listen, but be prepared to grab a box of tissues.
- 7.3 -
'you!', 'anything 4 u', 'cowboy in LA'
James Mellen is currently studying as a guitarist and producer based near Bristol. Interests include silly effects pedals, Yorkshire tea and 100 gecs.
This article was edited by Fin Cousins, a literature student and writer studying at Kings College, London. He is an avid consumer of sports and music and is still waiting for Love Island to accept his application. He also made our logo.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford.
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