Album Review: Lauv – How I’m Feeling

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With over 30 million Spotify listeners every month and millions of views across the various music videos uploaded to YouTube, the debut album of US singer Lauv, born Ari Leff, was definitely much anticipated. How I’m Feeling follows his 2018 playlist compilation I Met You When I Was 18 and arguably doesn’t fall short of expectations.

The 21-track album is extensive, possibly to the extent that the inclusion of some songs seems unnecessary

‘How I’m Feeling’ is a brutally honest album and is a means by which Leff utilises his well-crafted lyrics to address a number of prevalent issues, these ranging from male mental health to the impacts of social media on today’s generation. The 21-track album is extensive, possibly to the extent that the inclusion of some songs seems unnecessary, but nonetheless it presents Leff’s scope and is complementary to the message he is aiming to put across.

It might be argued that Leff finds he has spread himself too thin in this debut, with his efforts to include such an array of genres, these ranging from synth-pop tracks to ballads, and then a rogue turn to Latin-pop, meaning that some tracks seem to be outliers of his work. The latter, ‘El Tejano,’ a collaboration with Sofía Reyes, is so unlike the rest of the album that it seems Leff includes it simply to tick boxes and appeal to the masses. Though in spite of this, it is catchy and presents both his range and his ability to shape his style in a number of ways.

Making up nearly a quarter of the track-list, collaborations are a big part of the debut and in part have played a role in Lauv’s rise in popularity on a global scale in recent months: ‘I’m so tired…,’ featuring Troye Sivan, and ‘fuck, I’m lonely’ with Anne-Marie have both made appearances in UK Top 40 charts and been streamed by millions. Whilst these tracks are deserving of their popularity, it is arguably in ‘Mean It’ and ‘Canada’, his collaborations with US group LANY and Alessia Cara respectively, that Leff’s song-writing and vocals are best documented.

Lauv will be performing a show in Brixton’s O2 Academy, London, this November. Image: Lauv from Sven Mandel via Wikimedia and Creative Commons.

‘Mean It’ is massively self-aware, and the lyrics openly and honestly lay bare the heartfelt despair of being second choice after another man. Though this sentiment is by no means new or unique as far as generic pop songs go, the complimentary vocals of Leff and LANY’s Paul Klein work to draw attention to the raw emotions that Leff so centrally conveys across his album as a whole. Likewise, the guitar-based ‘Canada’ depicts a hopeful approach to a new relationship, with Alessia Cara’s verses interwoven with Leff’s to create a song less produced and far more stripped-back than those accompanying it on the album.

All songs put forth are deserving of a listen, an impressive feat for an artist to achieve so soon in their career.

Though a sense of vulnerability permeates the album, it culminates in a series of tracks that address Leff’s feelings of sadness and isolation, these including ‘Sad Forever’ and ‘Julia,’ and concluding with ‘Modern Loneliness.’ Credited with writing, in some part, lyrics for all 21 of the tracks on the album, the composition of these songs follows the breakdown of his relationship with fellow US singer Julia Michaels, the honest and apologetic nature of the writing on these songs in particular emphasising just how personal the album is for Leff. He sings of how he ‘[doesn’t] wanna be medicated’ anymore, finds himself ‘never alone but always depressed’ and in a ‘garden of loneliness,’ the allusions made here massively intimate and emphatically positioned at the close of the album to create a lasting impression of the importance of addressing such issues.

Overall, How I’m Feeling can be considered a solid debut that shows the promise many had hoped for Lauv as an artist. Though the sheer length of the album may seem excessive, all songs put forth are deserving of a listen, an impressive feat for an artist to achieve so soon in their career.

Image: Lauv-41949 by Harald Krichel via Wikimedia

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