“Kid Krow was my introduction to the world—there’s a lot of teen angst,” Conan Gray tells Apple Music, contrasting his sophomore album to his 2020 debut LP. “Superache is a bit more self-aware. I’ve had time to think about life; it’s my early twenties.” Written largely in isolation, on his bed, on the floor of his living room, and with Olivia Rodrigo producer Dan Nigro, the YouTuber-turned-pop star’s second LP is a maturation full of nuanced explorations of desire (“People Watching”) and romantic platonic friendships (“Best Friend”). “The overarching theme of this album is lingering pain—this mourning period that almost feels good. You wallow in it, and you cry, and you write all these songs; you’re being really annoying about it all,” Gray laughs. “That’s what a Superache is—I wanted it to have a bit of humor as well.”
Educated in Taylor Swift’s songwriting school of lyrical specificity, Superache is an album of cut-close-to-the-heart narratives (“Astronomy”), explosive pop rock (“Jigsaw”), Harry Styles-esque solo balladry (“Yours”), and ascending vocal melody (“Memories”). Ambitious and melodramatic, sure, but always rewarding. “I hope this album makes people feel less alone in their experiences. That’s why I started writing music: I was a lonely kid and didn’t feel like I could understand other people,” he says. “Being alive is a confounding thing and you’re allowed to have insane, mixed emotions all the time.” Below, Conan Gray walks Apple Music through his sophomore LP, track by track.
“I think the reason why I chose ‘Movies’ as the opener is because it’s a song about being in denial. For a lot of my early teens and a lot of my life, I spent so long, trying so hard, to fall in love in a way that was normal. I wanted the Hallmark movie. I wanted that stupid, fake, perfect love because that’s what I grew up seeing. I think, in the past few years, I’ve realized that’s not what I want anymore. I wanted to show people the process of discovering that over this album.”
“‘People Watching’ was a really pivotal point in making Superache. The truth is, I wrote this album at a time where I just wasn’t in love. I had very few romantic interests. And I feel like my whole life, I’ve been an observer of life but not a participator. I’ve watched people. What does it feel like to fall in love? I write all these songs because I’m trying to understand.”
“‘Disaster’ sounds a little different from the rest of the album. I wanted the song to sound like overthinking, where you’re racing through all these moments in your life with someone and trying to decipher whether or not they like you, and whether you should tell them that you have feelings for them. So, I wanted the song to be really fast and to have hard synths and drums and this really quick dialogue.”
“The song is about a bunch of different friends in my life. Since I’ve never been in a relationship romantically, I really see my friends as the most important aspect of my entire life. It felt like something that I had to say on the album or else it would’ve been an inaccurate depiction of what my life has been like the past few years.”
“The reason why I put ‘Astronomy’ after ‘Best Friend’ is because ‘Astronomy’ is about my best friend. My deepest fear in life is losing my best friends—my childhood best friend in particular. It’s irrational because I know her better than anyone else on earth and she knows me better than anyone else. In the bridge, I say, ‘Stop trying to keep us alive/You’re pointing at stars in the sky/That already died.’ When you look up at the night sky, you see all these stars, and most of them actually aren’t even there anymore. That’s that moment when you’re losing a friendship or a relationship, and you realize that the only things you have to say to them are things that you’ve done in the past. There’s nothing new and there’s nothing more.”
“Dan [Nigro] and I were sitting at the piano, and he started playing the melody. It got stuck in my head. I started singing, ‘Somebody you call when you are alone...’ At that point in my life, I was dealing with that annoying, lingering love for someone that I very much felt was the most important person in my life. They didn’t have the same feelings towards me. I wanted the chorus to be really simple and repeat itself, like, ‘Well, I’m not yours, and I want more, but that stuff’s not going to happen.’ I wanted it to be very kind of plain.”
“‘Jigsaw’ was the one part of the album where I really needed to express how angry it makes me that when you love somebody, it doesn’t matter who they are, it’s so hard to please them sometimes. You feel pressure to please them or become what they want you to be. I ended up getting in this argument with someone and I remember being so mad—the kind of mad where you start crying and you feel really stupid because you’re angry, but you’re crying. It was originally just a sad little acoustic song. I played it for Dan [Nigro] and I was like, ‘I want to make this song so loud.’”
“It’s about watching generations of hurt people pass their pain onto their kids, and then their kids pass them onto their kids. In my childhood, I felt like I was told that I was going to end up living this very specific life and that I wasn’t going to have a bright future because of my past. ‘Family Line’ is me saying, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter. I can be whatever I want to be.’ I was so scared to put it out; that was the reason why I needed to put it out.”
“My generation is the type of generation that loves to just act like everything is perfectly fine. When we talk about pain, we are very sarcastic about it. We don’t really get into depth about it, and we laugh it off. We create these facades about who we are in order to make things a bit easier. ‘Summer Child’ is me acknowledging the fact that we all have a tendency to create versions of ourselves that we think are easier for people to digest. But oftentimes, it’s just something that we’ve made up in our heads and everyone is perfectly lovable the way that they are."
“‘Footnote,’ selfishly, is my favorite song in the entire album. It scratches this itch that I’ve never heard scratched before, if that makes any sense. It’s not a song about the big dramatic heartbreak and the screaming and the slamming doors and crying. It’s not about that. It’s about the aftermath. When your ex ends up writing the story of their life, you’re just going to be a tiny little footnote at the bottom of a page. So much of love, of music is about the big and the loud. This song is about the quiet realization that you’re just going to have to take a step back and let them go.”
“‘Memories’ was the very last song that I wrote for Superache. I wanted to take this phrase that I’ve heard so many times in rom-coms, sitting on the curb like, ‘Oh, I hope that you’ll stay in my memories forever. I love you. Never leave me.’ I wanted to take that phrase and completely deconstruct it, like, ‘You know what? I actually do wish you would stay in my memories and not exist in my present. I don’t want you right now. Go.’”
“I wanted to end the album with ‘The Exit’ because it sums up the album. It’s about realizing that everyone around you is moving on, but you’re still standing at the exit, wondering how everyone is doing it so easily and how they’re able to continue on with their lives after being heartbroken. It’s always been something that’s dumbfounded me. I’m a lingerer. I just stick around, write songs, and think.”