a beautiful blur
While brainstorming the concept of LANY’s next record, Paul Jason Klein thought back to the songs he played on repeat growing up. “You know when you’re sitting in the back seat of your mom’s car looking out the window? That’s what I feel like these songs are for me,” he told Apple Music’s Travis Mills. “I was gonna be listening in the back seat and just, nobody talk to me.” Those peaceful moments of immersing yourself in music, deep thought, and the view are what he aimed to capture, but in a way that felt “fresh but familiar.” a beautiful blur, LANY’s fifth album, was made in a state of transition. With member Les Priest departing the group after 2021’s gg bb xx, Klein and Jake Clifford Goss continued as a duo. Between LPs, they also changed labels. Even the title itself changed. Though he initially announced it as i really really hope so, Klein explained the inspiration behind the final name in his newsletter: During a night out in Tokyo in October 2022, he stuck his head out of a cab window to take in the sights, and a friend snapped a blurry photo. In its own way, the fuzzy picture captured the spirit of living in the moment and becoming the main character of your life. That car imagery and desire to take control of one’s destiny appear on “Home Is Where the Hurt Is,” a bittersweet song about leaving the past behind to make a fresh start. “Sunset, 40 West, head for that horizon/Don’t you look back again, gotta keep on drivin',” Klein orders over soft drums. He continues to find life’s silver linings on the swirling “Sugar & Cinnamon,” which scales the heavens with its choir-assisted chorus. Across the rest of a beautiful blur, LANY delivers the love-and-heartbreak songs they’ve been perfecting since 2014, but do so with an updated sonic palette. On “Love at First Fight,” they bring bright, plucky pop-rock guitars, while songs like “Heartbreak Can Wait” and “No” are informed by Fred again..’s layered vocal manipulations, stirring synth builds, and ravey vibe. (“[Fred] broke us open,” Goss said of the producer’s influence on the album.) Among the production and emotional peaks, one of the LP’s best moments is its quietest: “Alonica,” named for a fictional place where a person can be and love their true self, conveys solitude through minimalist vocals and a reverb Klein likens to “being inside a snowglobe.” Just as blurs are undefined, LANY’s next chapter has opened up a vast new world where anything is possible.