The tussle between East Coast/West Coast for the soul of American pop culture never ends. We have a similar set-up in the UK – Plymouth/Portsmouth, Bath/Bristol, Newcastle/Sunderland are all raging on, only producing far less bling-era rap in the process. Good on LANY (LA/NY) for trying to bring the two together.
Given how perfectly the three piece slot into the pop landscape it’s a surprise they aren’t absolutely everywhere. LANY produce a sumptuously smooth blend of R&B inspired synthpop, with the occasional appearance of guitars for some gravity.
Listening to Malibu Nights, their second LP, is to sink into a goldleaf chaise longue. Every surface is buffed to a sheen, every synth spit-shined to a gleam, each finger-click and layer of pad perfectly placed. There’s a zen-like simplicity to it, and the effect is something like raking a rock garden.
Paul Klein, singer and principal songwriter, isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or even to spin it in any lateral direction. LANY work from a fairly constrained pallete – lacquered walls of synth with no furniture – but from this are able to hit a particular sweet spot between impossibly mainstream monopop and something individual enough to evoke the tag of ‘alternative’.
‘Thick And Thin’ has one of those effortless choruses that pings about your brain on repeat, and that is something Klein along with Jake Clifford Gloss & Les Priest excel at. Undemanding yet dramatic, the result has a chill that almost lets you forget how expertly poised the pop songwriting is.
LANY write with some delicacy, but without shame or constraint, which perhaps explains the comments of some reviewers on their debut LP (they weren’t kind). That’s all well and good – but Klein at least speaks like a man who knows his subject matter, and LANY songs are invariably about two people hopelessly locked into each other’s impulses.
Despite being a marketers wet dream, there is something authentic and true at the heart of LANY’s work. They may embody current trends so fully they almost inhabit them, but you can see the band through it. Malibu Nights is an absolute pleasure to listen to. In fact, LANY’s intention is to make music that is a pleasure to listen to. That’s a holistic goal I appreciate.
LANY are on tour throughout March – tickets here.