“[There’s an] eerily similar melancholy,” Luke Hemmings tells Apple Music, comparing his sophomore album, boy, to his 2021 debut, When Facing the Things We Turn Away From. “And that really propelled the emotion of boy and these seven songs. A lot of the stuff I write is very existential and trying to understand who I am and why I am. At this time, I was very disorientated and maybe a bit emotionally lost, even though life was moving forward in a really great way.” The two albums were conceived and recorded in vastly different circumstances. His debut came together in isolation under the cloak of COVID lockdowns, while boy was written as he toured the world with 5 Seconds of Summer, the Sydney band the singer/guitarist co-founded as a 15-year-old in 2011. Still, the pair have much in common: turns out you can feel just as alone spending months traversing the globe as you can sitting in your house waiting for the world to open up. Part of the reason for that disorientation was the dawning realization that he was entering his late twenties, leading Hemmings to reflect deeply on his youth while considering a potential future as a father. “You want to be the most fully realized version of yourself before stepping into that sort of role, which is a work in progress,” he explains. Taking inspiration from artists such as Damon Albarn, Beach House, LCD Soundsystem, and Richard Ashcroft, boy exhibits a dreamlike quality, one that bathes in melancholy without ever sinking into depression—witness the way in which opener “I’m Still Your Boy” builds from a whispered acoustic beginning into a grandiose and uplifting climax; or the sad-happy mélange of synths and dance beats that propel “Close My Eyes.” Here, Hemmings takes Apple Music through boy, track by track. “I’m Still Your Boy” “This song really encompasses the ache I wanted to get across and the growing pains it took to become a fully realized adult version of myself. It’s only until I started thinking of having children of my own that I began reflecting on the struggles I had myself as a teenager who grew up in the public eye. This song is about understanding my youth that was marred with trauma amidst beauty, whilst trying to become a good man. ‘I’m Still Your Boy’ walks on the high wire between boyhood and adulthood, looking both ways.” “Shakes” “‘Shakes’ was written on a dreary evening in between long periods of travel and touring, so it easily came from an incredibly melancholy place. A feeling of yearning to be back home, of feeling lonely and emotionally desperate and depleted. There is a longing for love and self-acceptance in the lyrics, and I hope it to be a song that anyone listening [to] can find themselves in and attach their own story.” “Benny” “This song is named after my brother, Ben, but in its entirety, it represents all of my loved ones and the guilt I feel being away from my family and living on the periphery of their world. It represents the mornings I wake up in a panic, anxious and worried that today will be the day I get bad news. News that would make my dreams of making music seem infantile and pointless. I’d do anything for the people I love.” “Close My Eyes” “I wrote ‘Close My Eyes’ as I headed into my late twenties and felt an unavoidable wave of fear and anxiety towards the inevitable death of my youth. I found myself unable to sleep because every time I tried, it was as if a film of my life was projected onto the back of my eyelids—the mistakes, successes, everything that could have been, and everything that was. I was sonically trying to tap into 2000s indie rock bands like LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture.” “Garden Life” “I had the idea for ‘Garden Life’ when I couldn’t sleep in a hotel room somewhere in the world, sometime around 3am. The next morning, I went for a walk and wrote the lyrics on a park bench, watching life pass me by. It’s really just an existential love song to my happiest and safest place. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that sometimes the most beautiful and visceral memories in life are not the most grand and obvious ones, they can be simple and powerful. It’s not always the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes it’s a Friday night sitting on the couch listening to your favorite person laugh.” “Close Enough to Feel You” “This song was inspired by sounds from Cocteau Twins and my bloody valentine, who I listened to heavily during the making of boy. The beauty in ‘Close Enough to Feel You’ is all in the details, both sonically and lyrically. Sometimes when you suffer a big emotional loss, something so mundane and otherwise unnoticed can become earth-shattering. A glimpse of a photo out of the corner of your eye, a stain on the carpet, an old sweater, sends you into the fetal position. This song is about the willingness and desire to live in that pain in order to feel close to who or what you lost, rather than moving on.” “Promises” “‘Promises’ was the song written for the EP that finally made me feel like I was really onto something. It started with merely a drum beat, which I find ironic as I’m not a drummer. But I think maybe it’s that naïveté that led to this song being created. It’s about a time in my life when I saw the world through gray-colored glasses. I was a pessimist, struggling with depression and my mental health, who fell in love and started to see color for the first time.”

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