“Only I would have THREE songs on a single album with the word ‘lonely’ in the title,” US singer-songwriter Lauv tweeted recently. That kind of self-deprecating sentiment is a pretty good summary of what he does on long-awaited debut ‘~how i’m feeling~’.
Via self-critical swipes and deep dives into the 25-year-old’s microcosm of experiences with love, life and depression, the album examines our modern existence in such an accessible way that it practically commands you to share its lyrical snapshots online, captioned with the words ‘hard relate’.
Born out of that phenomenon of young adulthood – the quarter-life crisis – the record finds Lauv grappling with different sides of his identity – the hopeless romantic, the class clown, the fuckboy, the existentialist, the spicy boy and Mr Positive – and acknowledging that they’re all a part of him, for better or worse. As he puts it on the brilliantly deceptive piano bounce of ‘Drugs & The Internet’: “I don’t wanna hit delete on all the parts of me that they might hate.”
It’s an admirable attitude but Lauv’s unwillingness to erase has its downsides. ‘~how i’m feeling~’ spans a whopping 21 tracks – a length even the world’s greatest artists would struggle to fill without sneaking some sub-par songs in.
Which means that lo-fi ballad ‘Julia’ is a little cloying, while the acoustic finger-picking of ‘For Now’ and jazzy guitar strums of ‘Sweatpants’ don’t quite live up to the high standard set elsewhere on the record.
Similarly hit-and-miss are the wealth of collaborations. ‘Fuck, I’m Lonely’ (featuring Anne-Marie) and ‘I’m So Tired’ (featuring Troye Sivan) are already certified gems, and LANY co-write ‘Mean It’ joins them as a piece of softly glittering pop prowess. Less memorable, though, are the Alessia Cara-featuring sombreness of ‘Canada’, the Sofia Reyes-backed Latin strut of ‘El Tejano’, and – most disappointing of all – the earnest ‘Who’, which can’t even be saved by a BTS cameo.
‘~how i’m feeling~’ excels when it’s just Lauv setting vulnerable, personal insights to radio-friendly minimal pop. It’s this exposed heart that gives it its power and beauty, documented best on ‘Modern Loneliness’ – a truly astonishing piece of songwriting that perfectly nails the millennial condition as a twisted anthem for the sad generation.
“Modern loneliness, we’re never alone but always depressed/Love my friends to death but I never call and I never text ‘em,” Lauv sings in a lightly bubbling chorus built for turning arenas into group therapy sessions. It’s bleakly, understatedly funny but also completely devastating. Even Lauv himself has admitted he cries every time he sings it. Hard relate, indeed.
Release date: March 6 2020