The nominally bicoastal pop trio’s fourth album is musically complacent and emotionally lifeless.
If you haven’t heard LANY’s music yet, you’ve heard a dozen variations of the same thing: syrupy synths and watered-down beats, electropop shuffles and lyrics culled from Instagram captions. This is the sound slumping across Spotify, playlist-friendly and palatable enough to put on shuffle; this is music that can never disappoint you, because you’ve been conditioned to expect nothing from it. Lauv, a reigning sadboi of streaming, sounds like this, all smeared vocals and finger snaps; so do, at times, Tove Styrke, who rasps quasi-confessional electropop, and Dixie D’Amelio, the TikTok star turned singer who cycles through market-tested genres. It’s the limp, flat soundtrack of Ubers and malls everywhere.
LANY stands for “Los Angeles New York,” but realistically, it means nothing—the group was desperate for an available four-letter word for “design and aesthetic purposes.” Their latest album chases that vague desire for a vibe. Every synth sounds like it’s swaddled in cotton batting, every drum pattern sounds like a shadow. LANY don’t pretend to cobble together some deeper meaning; the vacuum is the point. gg bb xx is their second album within a year, and even the title is just a random batch of letters: “I wanted a title that had no pretense, no preconceived notion,” one band member is quoted in the retail copy. “Whatever the song feels like to you, that’s what the title means.” Track after track, LANY ask us to invest in unconvincing emotion while outright denying that their music signifies anything at all.
You can assign the band some influences, if you’re feeling generous: the xx by way of OneRepublic, or an ultra-diluted strain of Glass Animals mixed with Ed Sheeran. But more acutely, this is the sound of infinite scroll. There is no introduction to who LANY are or claim to be, and for all the local name-checks they drag into their lyrics—L.A. freeways and Brooklyn rooftops, Monday night drinks and the Chateau Marmont—these are muddy songs with generic ideas about breakups and flirting. It’s tough to take LANY at their word when they swivel between irony and earnestness without committing to either. A beat drop underscores an exclamation of “Damn!” as they marvel at a woman who studied abroad in Japan. There are flecks of trop-house, an acoustic-adjacent ballad, and faintly propulsive pop tracks, but too many of these songs sound interchangeable.
The blandness might be more forgivable if these guys didn’t seem so insufferable. To hear LANY tell it, the world is against them because they’re too nice to women, too sensitive and long-suffering. Their incessant gripes are a feat of passive aggression: “Sorry I call again when you don’t pick up/And tell you you’re beautiful but probably too much,” they sing on “dna,” sounding astoundingly unselfconscious. “I stopped working late and I stopped getting high,” they moan on “never mind, let’s break up,” as if this were a great sacrifice. Their love songs can be equally grating, platitudes mashed into nonsensical turns of phrase. “People make rockets that go to the moon/People make mistakes too,” they yowl on “live it down,” with the earnestness of an elementary school choir. “You’re more Paris, Texas than Paris, France,” they coo on “get away,” which is, supposedly, a compliment.
LANY is less of a band, more of a Shutterstock image of what a band nowadays might be. Have you ever quickly needed a band for something, doesn’t really matter what they sound like as long as they play music? Try LANY. Their infatuations feel dubious, their sadness deeply petty. Their songs are translucent and transactional, absent of the basic ingredients that make music interesting. You can press skip the next time a LANY song shows up on your company-authored playlist of choice, but chances are good that the next track will sound just like it.
Buy: Rough Trade