California-born singer-songwriter Lauv – aka Ari Leff – has always set expectations high with his music and his 21-track debut album, ~how i’m feeling~ with its big-name collaborations and varied soundscapes has been highly awaited, touted to be the turn of the singer’s career into a new chapter.
Opening with ‘Drugs & The Internet’, the 25-year-old artist establishes the tone of the album as one of Gen Z thoughts and feelings. Detailing his own experiences with mental health and isolation, and the social media obsession that prevails over most of the current generation, Lauv plays with themes of loneliness, eroding identities on several tracks including previous hits ‘Fuck I’m Lonely’ ft Anne Marie, ‘I’m so tired’ ft Troye Sivan as well as new track ‘Lonely Eyes’.
Ari has pulled no punches in his bold all-revealing new chapter- that much is clear on tracks such as ‘Changes’ where he lays bare his decisions to handle his depression and OCD by moving to medicate his mental health struggles; and it’s in these raw offerings he shines most.
On the flip side, the collaborations including “Canada” featuring Alessia Cara which also features a Phoebe Bridgers song-writing credit and the earnest and much-anticipated ‘Who’ featuring K-pop giants BTS in their first ever all-English appearance fail to make the impact that one would expect when you see these names and know what such strong combinations of talent is capable of.
An exception – besides the already popular Anne Marie and Troye Sivan features – would be LANY’s feature on ‘Mean It’, which takes us through the journey of heartbreak from two different yet equally relatable perspectives.
But it’s standing on his own on tracks such as ‘Invisible Things’, ‘Sims’ and ‘Tattoos Together’ that Ari proves his title of being a “one man boyband” is not without substance to back it up. Revealing layer after layer of the person he has grown and learned to become over time these tidbits of the various aspects of his personality come together within a minimalist pop soundscape.
He works his way through 20 tracks filled with shimmering allure of collaborations, brave explorations of his vulnerabilities and much more before closing out on the best track of the album ‘Modern Loneliness’ ; a story that encompasses the entire message of new-age isolation as lives become contained and distorted in the high-quality picture-frames of a screen- if there’s one song to listen to on this album to understand where Lauv was going with the central theme, it’s this one.
how i’m feeling is a coming-of-age story rooted in identity-crisis, existentialism and acceptance of the less than savoury parts of oneself. However, there’s so much left unexplored in lieu of star-studded features, and that’s the biggest let down of the album – there was so much potential to the album, and a long tracklist to unpack it all, but it feels like far too little was said in the end.