“Mama’s Boy”: An older, wiser perspective on youthful mistakes

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New Music Alert! is your semester playlist becoming dry? Check out some new music from LANY.

LANY’s latest release may not be the golden child of their discography but maybe “Mama’s Boy” is an apt description of its standing in my eyes. The indie pop band has always had a penchant for creating well-composed albums that place the listener in a crafted state of mind yet are not structured enough to be considered conceptual. This manifests in the lively rush of enjoying one’s youth with “LANY” or the messy, yet poetic breakup explored in “Malibu Nights.” Their third studio album thankfully takes the three-piece group out of the slightly monotonous rut that is “Malibu Nights,” which perhaps takes the heartbreak state of mind too far. Although “Mama’s Boy” doesn’t live up to harmony of songs in their debut album, I think it succeeds in progressing LANY’s sound to present a widened, more mature version of their previous releases. 

Malibu Nights by LANY. Video Retrieved via YouTube.

With a stylistic acronym of Los Angeles and New York for their band name and an aesthetic that captures the cities’ coastal and urban vibe, LANY seems like they’re trying to be too cool for school. However, they lean into that appearance and pull off an unique sound that hasn’t sold out to mainstream radio nor is too boring and fades into the ether. “Mama’s Boy” is an authentic progression of the band’s sound, sharing the melancholic realization of a 20-something who not only addresses the mistakes of their youth, but also comes to terms with them. The four singles released earlier this year, starting with “Good Guys” in May, perfectly capture the different facets of the album, such as unsuccessful romantic endeavors and a return to familial traditions the narrator may have shirked in the name of teenage rebellion.  

“You’re the sun to the moon, you’re my ocean painted blue, you, I’m nothing without you,” lead singer Paul Jason Klein sings earnestly in “You.” 

“You’re the sun to the moon, you’re my ocean painted blue, you, I’m nothing without you.”

“Paper,” with the story of a couple that looks perfect on the surface yet disjointed behind the scenes, follows in the same wistful theme of broken relationships in “Mama’s Boy.” “When You’re Drunk,” “Anything 4 You,” “Sharing You” and “Good Guys” similarly discuss the remorse the narrator feels towards their romances, however, they are presented in a way that isn’t emotionally distraught like a typical ballad. If anything, it sounds like they’re doing penance, a theme explored in the album’s other songs as well. Because of the distinct content of each song in this lyrical vein, they manage to all stand out from each other and I enjoy the realistic situations they feature. 

“Girl, just tell me what I have to do, I’ll do anything for you,” Klein sings in “Anything 4 You.”  

“Girl, just tell me what I have to do, I’ll do anything for you.”

I respect artists whose discography is mostly slower songs, especially since many alternative and indie singers succeed with that sound. However, I recognize that as a listener, I prefer albums with a mix of ballads and upbeat tracks. That’s probably why I probably did not like “Malibu Nights” as much as I wanted to. The songs in “Mama’s Boy” skillfully use synth to make the emotional tone not too sappy, such as with the stronger beat in “Bad News” and choir in “I Still Talk to Jesus.” 

Speaking of the latter song, another theme explored in the album is the narrator’s desire to reprioritize their values and familial traditions. Klein sings an apology to his parents in “If This is the Last Time” and of rediscovering his identity in “Cowboy in LA,” which are both touching tracks. “I Still Talk to Jesus” continues in the same vein and discusses the narrator’s reconciliation of their current development as an individual with their childhood self, a nuanced storytelling take. 

I still talk to Jesus by LANY. Video retrieved via YouTube.

LANY’s first album made me feel the rush of teenage spirit and driving with the windows down in the middle of the night. Their second album exposed me to the turmoil of intense heartbreak. “Mama’s Boy” places me on a hill watching the last rays of light escape, proving their consistency in lyrical and musical storytelling. 

Top three tracks: “Bad News,” “Cowboy in LA,” “I Still Talk to Jesus” 

Rating: 4/5   

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