Lauv Explores the Spectrum of Emotion with Debut ‘~How I’m Feeling~’

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Lauv's new album "~How I'm Feeling~" was released on March 6. Pa (Cartoon by Izzy Schlegel)

By Palak Jayswal, Arts Editor

 

It may come as a surprise to most that Lauv, or Ari Leff, has just released his debut album, “~How I’m Feeling~,” at the beginning of March. After all, the pop artist is already well known for his sensational track “I Like Me Better,” a summer anthem for many. After such success, there’s a certain amount of pressure associated with bringing out new music, let alone a debut album. Artists either swim or sink in the face of such pressure — and with Lauv, he’s calm, collected and cooly afloat.

An artist’s first album defines their career in ways that follow them around for the rest of it. For Lauv, he took control of the reins of this first album very clearly. Aside from the music, the album cover itself — a photo of the artist sitting in all white, surrounded my mini, colored versions of himself meant to capture different facets of his personality — speaks to the artist’s creative mind. More than that, Lauv does what any authentic artist should do, debut or not — he lays himself down freely in the music.

The six mini-Lauvs are all at play within the album tracks — from purple (existential) on “Changes,” to blue (hopeless romantic) on “Tattoos Together,” to yellow (positive) on “Canada.” In a generation where figuring yourself out and crafting your identity are given so much importance, Lauv uses his art to his advantage, introducing the world to who he is — and not just the hopeless romantic listeners might perceive him to be from past hits.

 

Track by Track

The monster 21-track debut is an eclectic collection for Lauv, whose distinguishable pop music colors the radio. While some may deem the tracklist excessive, a listen to the album in entirety showcases why each song is needed. The album opener “Drugs & the Internet” shows Lauv’s self-aware and hilarious side. The album is fit with a surprising number of collaborations as well, from “Mean it” — a callout collaboration with genius LANY — to “Who” — an edgy song with BTS. Yet each one adds to the storyline and the different aspects of Lauv’s personality.

While the album is a look into who Lauv is, it’s simultaneously a commentary on difficult issues — loneliness (a version of the word used in three different track titles), mental health, medication and romance. It’s a pop-infused observation of the world as Lauv knows it, filtered through the colors of his own experiences. Songs like ‘”Julia” don’t leave much to the imagination of listeners, but this is what makes the album so brazen and hard-hitting — its raw honesty, self-awareness and understanding.

Not all is heavy with “~How I’m Feeling~,” however. Songs like “Canada,” a collaboration with Alessia Cara, give listeners an insight into the hopelessly romantic side of Lauv. “Changes,” one of my personal favorites from the album, proudly proclaims “It’s all gonna work out / it’s all gonna work out someday.” The album closer, “Modern Loneliness,” is solemn — but it captures something many find hard to quantify in words.

 

Verdict 

5/5 stars

Lauv’s debut is telling, engaging and, in my opinion, only hints at what the artist has up his sleeve (or his 6 mini-sleeves). No two songs are the same on the album, even if some of them are associated with the same parts of his personality. However, what makes this album spectacular is Lauv joining a rising trend in the music industry  — being authentic, speaking about issues everyone has and creating art out of it. It’s relatable for listeners, providing a sense of understanding and belonging.

“~How I’m Feeling~,” simply put, is the album you want to direct someone to when you can’t explain exactly how you’re feeling.

 

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