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LANY’s ‘mama’s boy’ fits like your favorite pair of jeans

| Friday, October 9, 2020

Jackie Junco | The Observer

LANY’s third album, “mama’s boy,” was released Friday, and it is just as emotional, nostalgic and sentimental as the past two. The difference is that it doesn’t deal as much with heartbreak.

According to Paul Klein in an interview for the “LANY presents mama’s boy, the Enhanced Album” edition on Spotify, this album came from intense note-taking on situations he was in, as well as lots of journaling and all three of the band members’ roots of growing up in rural areas. To Klein and his bandmates, it became important to take ownership of “being from the middle of nowhere,” which is evident in the album cover.

Tyler Johnson, who produced both of Harry Styles’ albums, worked on six of the songs on “mama’s boy.” Learning this didn’t immediately invoke comparison or point out similarities between the two albums — at least not for me — and I am okay with that, since I respect both artists as separate entities.

Of the first couple singles released over the summer, “good guys” and “this is the last time” hinted at some familiarity in subject as well as sound. “good guys” addresses the interim of being in love while coming to terms with what different people want. “if this is the last time” returns to the theme of parents in the band’s life, encouraging appreciation of time spent with family, which is not to be taken for granted.

“You!” and “cowboy in l.a.” introduce new elements into LANY’s work, both sonically and thematically. “You!” could be seen as a song about God, family, friends or even a significant other. As the first track, it encouraged me as a listener, the resilient electric guitar bringing me a sense of comfort and hope at the same time. “cowboy in l.a.” takes the vein of electric guitar that LANY has become known for and tones it down for a track reminiscent of their early work, specifically the song “pink skies.” Klein croons how “the purple in the sky ain’t as pretty as your eyes,” which calls to mind “get ya under pink skies, I know exactly where we should go/cuz I love the way your green eyes mix with that malibu indigo.” The song title might be the most aligned with the inspiration for the album because it takes the cowboy trope and memories of growing up to Los Angeles, where the band is based.

These famous guitar riffs and chords combine with supportive percussion in “heart won’t let me” and make way for new sonic elements. These, according to Klein, include acoustic guitar, a kids’ choir, organ, a gospel choir and slide guitar, which bring much variation to the songs compared to when the band first started out, making their music on a Dell computer. These new sounds can be found in “you!,” “i still talk to jesus,” “paper,” “sharing you” and more.

When the songs do deal with romance and relationships, it seems to be in retrospect or from angles that don’t involve being directly in a relationship yet or anymore. “heart won’t let me,” “sharing you,” “paper,” “when you’re drunk” and “anything 4 u” touch on the befores and afters and in betweens of relationships, which I find interesting as a recurring theme on this album. 

“mama’s boy” proves comfortingly familiar and refreshingly new at the same time. It reflects LANY’s maturity — aging like a fine wine — yet they still fit “like your favorite pair of jeans,” in Klein’s words.

Album: “mama’s boy”

Artist: LANY

Favorite songs: “heart won’t let me,” “cowboy in l.a.,” “paper”

If you liked: Harry Styles, LAUV, One Republic

Shamrocks: 3 out of 5

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