LANY has dropped it’s latest fourth album gg bb xx on 3rd September and fans can anticipate some fantastic track on the album like Never Mind Let’s Break Up and Dancing In the Kitchen. According to the band, the new album is is a change of gear, towards what frontman and principal songwriter Paul Klein calls micro-moments: those flashes we experience that come and go in the blink of an eye. Fleeting moments in love and life that it’d be easy to miss if we didn’t grab hold of them there and then.
gg bb xx comes hot after the band’s 2021 Mama’s Boy, an album whose neon cowboy artwork perfectly encapsulated a collection of songs in which LANY wrestled with the tension between the bright lights of their lives today and their roots growing up in, as the band put it, “the middle of nowhere”. A sonic departure for the band, it also worked as something of a prequel: an opportunity to present the origin story of a group that had apparently arrived fully formed from LA and NY, via Nashville. “We took our fans back home,” Paul says now. “We showed them what we left, and maybe why we left. It was taking people on a journey — spending some time away from LANY to tell the story behind it.” The band figured that on any long journey it’s alright to take a detour or two; ironically, the departure ended up earning LANY their biggest radio hit to date, in the shape of If This Is The Last Time, and a top 10 US album, winning them even more new fans along the way.
Indeed, one line on new song Up To Me — “have you heard they’re playing LANY on the radio?” — was directly inspired by texts Paul received during 2021 when their music was blowing up in places it had never blown up before. In turn, his mind wandered to a former romance, from back when the band was in its infancy. “I thought of my ambition back then when I was still trying to make it, and the people I was with at the time, and it occurred to me: I wish we were celebrating together.”
Paul’s unselfconscious knack for pensive, reflective lyricism teems through this album, painting miniature vignettes that can’t help but resonate. On Somewhere, for instance, he sings of growing self-esteem and independence. “There comes a point in anyone’s life where it’s important to not need the approval of or affection from others — to love yourself, and be proud of yourself,” he says. “It’s a journey and I might spend the rest of my life trying to get there, but I’m on the way. The song says: I’m not where I want to be. But I’m getting somewhere.” Then there’s the idea of “loving only halfway” expressed in DNA — a song about struggling to establish a meaningful relationship in a town where commitment seems like a dirty word. “In LA you can barely get someone to commit to dinner on a Wednesday night, much less a relationship,” Paul says. “The DNA of this town is: keep your options open. ‘Nah, I’m gonna love you a little bit but you never know who might be better, hotter, younger, more beneficial to my status.’ Dating in LA is all about: ‘I’ll love you, but only halfway.’”
Nailing down a solid relationship in the recording studio can be just as tricky, he adds. “It’s difficult to find producers these days that will commit to an entire body of work, but when I met Andrew Goldstein I expressed an interest that I would love to make this top to bottom with him, and he was on board straight away. He totally understood the dynamic of LANY, and he understood our vision from the get go.” (At one point the vision was that the album would be entirely electronic, though this was revised slightly as band couldn’t resist the lure of a twelve-foot grand piano.)
When the album felt done, Paul found himself watching an Ed Sheeran documentary in which Ed, his own album feeling done, played the tracks to his record label who pointed out that it was a bit ballad-heavy. Ed then turned in Shape Of You. “The most streamed song on any platform in the whole fucking world,” Paul reflects. The next day LANY went into the studio and set themselves the challenge of imagining that they hadn’t actually yet written their new album’s biggest song. The result was Never Mind Let’s Break Up. “There’s a 99.99% chance that the song is absolutely not our Shape Of You,” Paul laughs, “but we still walked out with a song that was really cool.” And it’s a song packed with micro-moments — snapshots from all Paul’s previous relationships; a greatest hits of near breakups. Or, as Paul puts it: “All the times I was ready to pull the trigger and say: okay, it’s not working, let’s split up.”
Nowhere is gg bb xx’s sense of spontaneity more in evidence than in the album’s title. (For the record you pronounce it ‘gg’ as in Hadid, ‘bb’ as in Rexha, and ‘xx’ as in, well, The xx.) Fans and internet sleuths could spend years attempting to decode the secret hidden message or significance of this title, so to save everyone time: it doesn’t mean much at all. “I wanted a title that had no pretence, no preconceived notion: a clean slate,” Paul explains. “So whatever the title means to you, that’s what the album title means.”
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