On Friday, the first night of the L.A. band LANY’s sold-out Hollywood Palladium stand, a half-dozen post-frat dudes danced like absolute maniacs. A few of them wore LANY T-shirts to the LANY show. None showed an ounce of shyness as they all hugged it out for every plaintive lyric. It looked like someone dropped MDMA into the CAA assistants’ break-room coffeemaker.
That’s more or less the place that LANY occupies in the rock firmament right now: sensitive R&B-via-Phil Collins for mainstream (and potentially very big) young crowds. They’re not quite as arty and oblique as their peers in the U.K. quartet the 1975, who took a similar sound to world-conquering heights even as guitar-driven rock music has less influence on the pop charts than ever.
But LANY looks to be next up for that role, with a particular L.A. glow that will likely travel well too.
The group is built around the charisma (and let’s be honest, enviable cheekbones) of singer Paul Klein. Or at least that’s how they assembled their stage on Friday night. LANY walked out on two tiers for their set — one for Klein and his piano at the front, and a second, elevated one for multi-instrumentalist Les Priest and drummer Jake Goss (along with touring member Giuliano Pizzulo).
It looked impressive, especially when it all turned into a split-screen video wall and framed everyone in silhouette. But was an interesting reminder that in 2018, a live rock band’s stage dynamics aren’t quite what they used to be.
LANY had a brief run knocking around the L.A. scene until a batch of early EPs got them onto opening slots for the likes of Ellie Goulding and Troye Sivan, which escalated to a festival slot at Coachella and now major sold-out dates all their own.
Right from the get-go, they were a nominally rock act competing mostly in pop spaces. (They’d probably hate the comparison, but Maroon 5 is a model here.) The synths came straight from ’80s power ballads, the 808 drums from modern rap and lyrics from the strain of wounded-dude-swagger that everyone from Drake to Sam Hunt is using today.
That lane-splitting is more apparent than ever on the group’s latest LP, “Malibu Nights.” The album is a sleek and tender document of a thoroughly modern band hitting all the right references for 2018.
On Friday, they nailed the bleary, morning-after slow jams of “Taking Me Back,” “Thru These Tears” and “I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore.” It’s easy see how fans who have graduated from the mid-tempo EDM-pop of the Chainsmokers would, in their search for something more subtle and mature, find their way to LANY.
Sure, there’s more volatile music happening in this space, but LANY has a concision and savvy that sets them apart as well. “Super Far,” from their 2017 debut LP, had a heavy synth throb and misty details in the production, but also a sense of humor: The band’s video for the tune, projected behind them while they played, showed them synchronized dancing with deadpan seriousness.
For fans who love to dive into the most minute references of a favorite act, LANY has a lot to offer. (Klein used to date the U.K. pop star Dua Lipa, and several recent songs from each are rumored to be about each other.) But more than stan-stirring gossip, LANY offers perhaps our most compact vision of what a rock band on its way up looks like in 2018.
That is: enough style and charm to create an absorbing story for fans, an ear for the production moves that drive pop but not a slavish devotion to them and a speed with new material that can keep up with hip-hop on streaming services.