“Thru These Tears.” Alex Reviews Malibu Nights

 

Sometimes, all you need is a really great breakup album. Enter LANY, indie pop trio comprised of three friends: Paul, Jake, and Les. Pronounced “lay-nee” and derived from the combined acronyms for Los Angeles and New York, LANY developed a loyal fanbase in 2014 after anonymously releasing music on Soundcloud. Since then, the band has taken off, starting with opening gigs for artists like Troye Sivan and Halsey to present-day, playing sold-out headline tours for the entire world. The group’s success comes from their ability to pair sharp, relatable lyrics with expressive and interesting musical production. The combination results in a fully-formed and instantly identifiable sound: a mix of thumping synths and drum beats in one song, a piano ballad the next.

 

In the years leading up the release of their debut LP, self-titled LANY, the group released several EPs which allowed them to consistently honor and thank current fans while simultaneously building upon their fanbase. LANY (the album) stretches on for 16 tracks, marking a stark difference in content creation and, unfortunately, quality. The album at its worst is just fine; the album sometimes fails to connect with audiences due to a little too many filler tracks, a strange direction for a band that had become known for producing concise and focused work. While the album had its moments, speaking as a long time fan, LANY left a bit to be desired. Then, Paul got his heart broken by Dua Lipa.

 

Understanding the creation of Malibu Nights lies in the context of Paul and Dua’s relationship. Essentially, the two dated publicly and happily for about 6 months until Dua broke it off in January of this year. A surprise to Paul, the breakup informs the album, as it exists in the onset period of the breakup. Malibu Nights is a concise collection of only nine tracks (unlike their first LP) and focuses entirely on the aftermath of Paul’s surprise heartbreak.

 

The album opens with a strong, shocking start; “Thick and Thin” is classic LANY, a heartbreaking song that actually makes you want to dance. Lyrically, the track explores themes of confusion in the midst of an argument, combined with driving drum beats and a dance-pop vibe. LANY does this better than most groups do--the beat hits hard but the lyrics hit harder. “Taking Me Back” follows and, like the former, carries themes of heartbreak set to explosive drums and ethereal synths. The result is a headbanging plea to a lover to accept one last apology. The song reaches its emotional peak in the bridge, as Paul sings/pleads lines of desperation: “Can I talk you into taking me back? We can go back.”

 

And just when you think LANY couldn’t embody emotional desperation any more, “If You See Her” takes it to the next level. The lyrics say it all, as Paul cries to anyone who will listen, “If you see her, tell her I’ll do anything, I need her.” His voice trembles as the song closes, “But if she says she loves me, let me see her.” The song cuts deep, and you can’t help but feel for Paul.

 

“I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore” rests in the same area as the three previous tracks, this time expanding on his trajectory of coping with the breakup. Paul recites the title of the song several times, with absolute intention: the more he says it, the more he’ll soon believe it.

“Let Me Know” puts a halt on the sad dance tracks and offers a change of pace. This slower and more relaxed track allows Paul to take his first breath on the album, showcasing Paul’s vocal versatility. Lyrically, the song is the saddest yet; the song’s chorus consist of, “Let me know if you ever change your mind.” “I still love you” is repeated several times as the song closes, making evident that no matter how calm this song is, Paul still has some feelings to work through. Enter “Run,” the darkest and most spiteful song on the album. Vocally, Paul sounds angry and accusatory, condemning his ex for presumably returning to her ex. The song offers another change of pace, though upon first listen, the song is disconcerting. “I figured you out,” Paul whisper-sings at the song’s close. The song makes you feel the pain and frustration Paul felt, which is the point.

“Valentine’s Day,” track 7, is another upsetting turn on the album as far as content. The song explores Paul attempting to move on with someone else and ultimately deciding that “she’s not as good as you.” The song resonates because of its relatability--sadly, it is not uncommon to try to move on before you are ready, which just leads to more pain. The song is arguably the deepest cut, as Paul sings, “I think it’s time to give my heart a chance, even though it’s bleeding.” We’ve all been there, especially on Valentine’s Day. “Thru These Tears,” the incredible lead single from the album, finds Paul finally reaching the emotional catharsis we’ve all been waiting for. The album’s thesis exists in the song’s chorus: “In the end I’m gonna be alright, but it might take a hundred sleepless nights / To make the memories of you disappear, but right now I can’t see nothing through these tears.” Paul eventually finds a little bit of light in this album of confusing darkness, speaking his recovery into existence until he believes it himself.

The album closes with its title track, a track that leaves the listener with something of a bruised heart. In stark contrast to “Thru These Tears,” “Malibu Nights” finds Paul with his piano, describing his loneliness, his reliance on alcohol, and his aimless drives in an attempt to clear his mind. The song sees Paul questioning what to do with himself now, clearly reeling from the loss of what he thought was the love of his life. Despite the album’s dark and emotional conclusion, the listener can find solace in knowing that Paul knows he has time, declaring, “I got way too much time to be this hurt.” A plea against pain, yes, but also a statement of knowing he deserves more than what he has now. He does not need to be hurting this badly; he still has time.

Malibu Nights is an artistic triumph because of its candid nature. According to the group themselves, the album was written and recorded in 45 days. This is evident in its focus and emotional power. By immediately putting pen to paper and writing everything he was feeling, Paul was able to focus his heartbreak on producing music, ultimately healing himself in the process. Though the group has released breakup songs in the past, Paul has stated that he had never felt heartbreak like this before. This is felt throughout the album. Designed to make you dance and bring you emotional catharsis, Malibu Nights is the best LANY release yet, and is one the best breakup albums out there.