Despite the distraction of a surreptitiously reflective and nonchalantly refined indie-pop atmosphere, it is possible to interpret LANY’s typical self-pity as indulgent, such as on the melodically crisp but lyrically unsure ‘heart won’t let me’. Regarding Klein’s lyricism, Mama’s Boy represents a marked improvement on the boys' second studio album Malibu Nights, alongside a continuation of the rumination identifiable within tracks such as ‘Run’ and ‘Let Me Know’. Malibu Nights was exquisitely produced, establishing key stylistic features of LANY’s easy listening dream-pop groove and signifying real technical progression from LANY (2017), but lacked bite and depth in its lyricism. Driven by an impulse to treasure and cherish sacred moments, ‘if this is the last time’ perfectly encapsulates Klein’s increased maturity on this record, as he considers themes of family and loss. Stating “life is hard, family isn’t perfect but time flies and nothing lasts forever” in an Instagram post about their second single, it would appear some of LANY’s whimsicality has evolved into unanticipated wisdom.
"it would appear some of LANY’s whimsicality has evolved into unanticipated wisdom"
A product of the dreamy aesthetic modern society idealises, Klein’s laid-back vocal remains omnipresent throughout the record, backed by almost ethereal supporting harmonies from Les Priest, and Goss’ steady percussion arrangements. The pristine combination of the LA trio is at its most effective on both the triumphant ‘you’, and the elegant and shimmering ‘(what I wish just one person would say to me)’. The former includes a classically paired back LANY bridge section and evokes something of modern Christian Pop in its gospel choir, not only contemplating our reliance on those we love (“put me back together gave me life”), but mediating between the romantic themes of Malibu Nights and the deeper, more universal connections pondered on this record. The latter is also a highlight, dripping in rich and meticulously balanced vocal/instrument arrangements, with lyrics glimmering in melodramatic energy and reflecting back onto their Southern-American roots.
Effervescent and dance-inducing, ‘Good Guys’ embodies the boys’ musical journey, providing a brief inward glance toward their debut album and the fizzing up-tempo track ‘Good Girls’. Whether intentional or not, the 2017 record’s plead “Baby come back I know my way around your heart” seems to unabashedly parallel Klein’s familiarly self-pitying assertion that “good guys, good guys never win”. Of similar highlight is the less chaotic piano-led ballad ‘I still talk to jesus’, where Klein disregards his rose-tinted glasses and focuses on his often difficult relationship with God, admitting in spite of drink and drugs that his unwavering commitment to his faith can surmount even his own expectations. ‘paper’ and ‘anything 4 u’ (the blink-and-you-miss-it track) are both sweet and alluring, verging on serendipitous but remaining grounded through slick and collaborated production alongside creatives ranging from long-time writing partner King Henry through to obscure 90’s R and B singer Nicole McCloud.
Ultimately, despite the triad’s constant self-reflection, there is an element of escapism about Mama’s Boy - never daring to be superficial or false but presenting such interpersonal themes that a warm cosiness emanates from their work. The bands' acknowledgement of their imperfections is brave but unites all listeners under the common ideal of utopian kindness and undoubted care for their nearest and dearest. As a marked and mature progression from their past self-pity, LANY’s strength is not just in their moonlit romanticism, but the acknowledgement that future golden sunsets are achievable if we dare to stop and reflect.