You may recognize the infectiously catchy “I Like Me Better,” featuring upbeat electronic beats mixed with fun lyrics, from its time on the radio and playlists 2018. Ari Staprans Leff, otherwise known as Lauv, has been teasing his first studio album with the release of similarly catchy singles over the last few months. The American singer-songwriter’s “How I’m Feeling” is a fun play on the generational existentialism that often plague millennials and Generation Z in a world of technology and interconnection that touches upon these topics, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. After dropping last Friday, the release proves to exhibit the euphoria and nostalgia that fit perfectly with his electropop sound.
From personal ballads to fun tunes of modern romance, “How I’m Feeling” truly captures Lauv’s feelings and can easily define yours too. The cover art is a fun representation of the album’s vision, with mini models of the artist dressed up in different colors to represent his different personas.
“The album was kind of born out of an identity crisis, where I felt very boxed into one part of my personality,” Lauv said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “There’s so many other sides to me…The album was just the process of accepting all parts of myself as a creative, as a person, as an artist.”
If I had to choose one song that I think encapsulates the generational emotional gap that Lauv tries to address with this work, I would say “Modern Loneliness” does just that.
“Modern loneliness/We’re never alone, but always depressed yeah,” He sings, drawing attention to young adults’ more open discussion of mental health than previous generations. “Love my friends to death/But I never call and I never text ‘em.”
The song itself isn’t the most depressing thing ever, with some electronic beats still incorporated into the chorus to contrast the rather sad words. Lauv isn’t trying to be overly self-deprecating, but the crisp sound of the music and his honest words are powerful enough to resonate with me. “Sad Forever,” an earlier single, is perhaps even more forlorn with less instrumentals, but offers a similar introspection as the former song.
“‘Cause lately, I’ve been in the backseat in my own life/Trying to take control, but I don’t know how to,” Lauv sings. “I don’t wanna be sad forever/I don’t wanna go one more day/I just wanna wake up and realize/Everything’s going to be okay”
On the flip side of “Modern Loneliness” and “Sad Forever” is the whimsical “Tattoos Together,” that I envision people skipping down the street while listening to it, or something to that effect.
“Then somebody said let’s get/Tattoos together, something to remember,” Lauv sings. “If it’s not forever/Then at least we’ll have tattoos together/Mmm, ‘cause I love you”
“Tattoos Together” is sugar-sweet, talking about spontaneously getting a tattoo with a lover he’s not even that serious with yet. It draws on the wild unpredictability of youth, and goes with the “doesn’t take itself too seriously” vibe of “How I’m Feeling.” It’s one of the more undeniably pop songs on the record, yet still doesn’t seem bland.
My favorite singles and songs off of “How I’m Feeling” are “Mean It,” featuring American indie pop band LANY and “Feelings.” The voices of Lauv and Paul Klein, of LANY, meld together so perfectly I could not tell them apart at points in the song. Both are my favorite brand of existential indie pop where it’s perhaps not on your playlist of bangers, but would be perfect playing while you’re driving in the car by yourself or sitting in the passenger seat looking out of the window.
The album, in its sounds and lyrics, is as multifaceted as its singer and message. Sure, some songs are a little basic and may not end up on all of my playlists, but some of them have become some of my favorites for the year. And there’s 21 songs in the work, so I give Lauv some slack — not all of them can be winners, but neither are we.
Hollie Lao is a staff writer and the social media manager for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.