Beneath the sugary synths and audience playfulness, Klein and co. struggle to break from their 2014 Tumblr mould.
After a four-year absence, the O2 Academy hosted Los Angeles indie-pop darlings LANY upon their return to Glasgow. The 2021 BB GG XX tour saw the global impact of the emotional soft-boy infatuation, fuelled by Paul Klein as he was swooned over by the young, Scottish population.
Perhaps attributable to the lingering fear surrounding gigs after Covid-19, but the venue felt as though social distancing measures were still mandatory. With many in the audience choosing to watch on from the bar, the isolation of Klein’s personal heartbreak against the sugary-synthesized backdrop could not be escaped. With couples singing towards each other more than towards the stage, and groups of friends connecting over the lust in Klein’s lyrics; the O2 was the last place for those with a broken heart.
LANY can be remembered as a pillar of the 2014 Tumblr aesthetic, bringing it back with a set painted against the omnipresent pink skies of Los Angeles and rooftops of Brooklyn. The audience first saw Jake Goss and Charles Priest take to the stage, longingly waiting for a glimpse of frontman Klein. His “sadboi” persona was elevated by his playfulness and unintentional vulnerability bouncing off the audience. Rocking up in an oversized hoodie, cargo shorts, and hair still soaking wet, LANY’s comfort on stage could be seen from the first few bars.
Though LANY are typically recognisable for their palatable yet distinct pop beats, their set was on the verge of falling into the realm of vague dreampop with little diversity in subject or sound. Opening with get me, the first song of the new album, there was an immediate reflection on a past relationship in which Klein sets the stage for heartbreak and mistreatment, two themes that returned again and again throughout the show. Fan favourites from the second album, Thick and Thin and Malibu Nights, also weren’t missed from the 20+ setlist. Despite occasional love-sick saturation, there were still several memorable tracks played from the new album such as never mind, let’s break up and roll over, baby; with lyrics projected as visuals, there was no excuse to miss a word.
Paul Klein’s detachment from past relationships seemed more difficult to shift as we saw a break in the set after one fan shouted “Forget Dua Lipa!” – this interjected reference to a past romance saw a moment of uncomfortable emotional exposure and brief silence from Klein. Amongst this rose-tinted reflection on love, their set of back-to-back hits was not enough to prevent the pain and regret seeping through an excruciatingly upbeat performance. Though LANY have mastered the art of performance and capturing an audience’s heart, hopefully the next tour will see the band honouring a new, promising love.