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album review: malibu nights

Malibu Nights is the highly anticipated sophomore album for dream indie pop trio, LANY, which was released October 5th. Composed of Paul Jason Klein, Jake Goss, and Les Priest, LANY’s heart-wrenching lyrics and rhythmic tones flooded the ears of listeners back in 2014 with their nostalgic SoundCloud releases “Hot Lights” and “Walk Away.” Their recognizable hit “ILYSB” (I Love You So Bad) stole the hearts of many online listeners. From there, LANY and their loyal fan base began to take over, including touring with Ellie Goulding and Troye Sivan. They then landed slots at festivals such as Outside Lands and Bonnaroo. LANY released their debut, self-titled album in June of 2017.

Although LANY is known for their nostalgic wanderlust of youthful lyrics, Malibu Nights is unlike anything anyone could have ever guessed. The band teased the announcement in early April at their headlining shows in Manila, but officially announced the news every LANY fan was dying to hear: Malibu Nights would be available in October. Fans waited in anticipation, knowing that these songs would make them smile, laugh, cry, hug each other close, and would truly depict the growth and maturity of LANY. Their first album was produced in a kitchen, but now they would be in the studio with producers who had worked with bands such as The 1975 and The Kooks.

Paul Jason Klein wrote this album in early January, amidst the one of the worst pains: heartbreak. From his mind, to pen and paper, and eventually into the studio, Malibu Nights was finished around Valentine’s Day. Finally, mid-July rolled around, and after teasers and eagerness, the first single “Thru These Tears” was released for the world to hear. The song provides a plethora of emotions; from heartbreak to optimism. This was the perfect song to give people a taste of what was to come. Shortly after, two more songs were released: “I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore” and “Thick and Thin.” These synth-driven tracks are the more buoyant tracks of the album. They provide a perfect balance of an upbeat rhythm with lyrics that still tear at the heartstrings. The last release was “If You See Her,” which was released less than a week before the album would be available for everyone to hear.

This nine-track masterpiece can be simply defined as a break-up album. The lyrics are heartbreaking; Klein expresses his emotions so clearly that the listener feels his exact emotions, which is a huge reason why LANY has been so successful. The fans are able to really feel these songs, not just relate to them and get likes when they tweet the lyrics. It is a beautiful gift that not many artists have the ability to convey. This album showcases the universality of LANY. It is piano heavy, yet utilizes synthesizers in a unique way, creating melodic harmonious beats that are able to convey both happiness and sadness. It showcases the cathartic songwriting process and all the meticulous detail that is put into a LANY album.

LANY is known for their sentimental, mesmerizing synth-driven sound, but this album also displays some of the different techniques and approaches the trio utilized. Specifically, the song “Let Me Know” perfectly exemplifies how LANY is taking risks in their music, but also maintaining the original identity fans fell in love with. This melodic track contains the layered, harmonious vocals that can be considered a LANY essential, but also introduces a soft guitar driven backing track, and even a small, calming guitar solo. This record incorporates more drums, guitar, and piano-driven songs, but maintains the same 2014 LANY feel, showing that the band is growing as musicians, while also staying true to their roots.

A stand out track is the one that wraps up the album, the title track, “Malibu Nights.” The way the rhythm progresses from sole piano to blissful, yet restless synths elaborates on the evolution of emotion Klein conveys through his lyrics. The way the tone of the song intensifies from being upset to pleading for lost love, this song perfectly sums up what LANY is about and why there are hundreds of fans that emotionally connect to their music.

This album is unique in the fact that it can be categorized as a break-up album, but every single emotion is conveyed. These songs make me want to dance in the rain with my friends and scream about the people that hurt us, walk alone on the beach and feel the ocean breeze, or drive down Pacific Coast Highway and listen as Klein pleas about driving “circles under streetlights.” This album will break your heart, but beautiful things, like this album, arise from heartbreak. This is “Malibu Nights.”

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