Ari Leff, more popularly known by his stage name, Lauv, has become a sort of an enigma of his own. Having shot into the music scene with his first single, “The Other,” his life kind of just took off from there. Now he has collaborated with notable names like Troye Sivan, Julia Michaels and BTS and has toured all across the globe with Ed Sheeran.
“Just as raw, vulnerable, honest, and emotionally alienating as you think it would be.”
He then released his debut EP/playlist of sorts titled ‘I met you when I was 18. (the playlist)‘ in 2018. Now, two years and a crapload of singles later, he’s finally released his debut album ~how i’m feeling~.
It does exactly what the title says – tells us how he’s feeling. And it is just as raw, vulnerable, honest and emotionally alienating as you think it would be.
As young adults, we are no strangers to anxiety and depression. We’re no stranger to feeling like the entire world is against us. Hearing Lauv go through his quarter-life crisis as he tries to make sense of everything that he’s feeling is extremely relatable. (There’s plenty to relate to as this album is 21 songs long!)
~how i’m feeling~ is divided in six colours, all different versions of Lauv. Purple: existential, blue: hopeless romantic, red: spicy, yellow: positive, green: goofy and orange: f*ckboy. Each song represents one or more colours or personalities. This is his one-man boyband, and this is how he is visually presenting us how he’s feeling.
This album is self-critical, brutally honest and showcases Ari’s struggle with mental health problems like anxiety and depression. He dives deep into what it feels like to be lonely and isolated, even when you’re surrounded by people – something we tend to face on a regular basis.
“He dives deep into what it feels like to be lonely and isolated.”
His most personal song on the album, Modern Loneliness explores that. “Modern loneliness / We’re never alone but always depressed,” Lauv sings over a finger-snapping beat. “Love my friends to death but I never call them, I never text.”
There are heartbreaking synth crooners like “Lonely Eyes” and “For Now.” Then there are massive big-name collaborations like “Who” with BTS, “Canada” with Alessia Cara and “i’m so tired...” with Troye Sivan.
There’s a little bit of everything in this album. There are songs about failed past relationships (“Julia,” which is most definitely about his relationship with Michaels) and songs about his dog Billy. If you just want a good cry, or you just want to listen to some synth-pop tunes to make you feel better, you’ll find it in this album.
You will also find an extremely relatable and vulnerable side of Lauv in his music. “We live in a world where a lot of people are afraid of really expressing themselves,” he said. “I want you to hear my music and feel, ‘I can be honest and vulnerable with the people around me.’”
“There is a lot of sadness in this album, but it is the kind of sadness you can dance to.”
And there are many songs on this album where you can feel that honesty and vulnerability. Lauv has been an advocate for mental health for as long as he can remember. Recently, he has also been diagnosed with depression and OCD.
There is a lot of sadness in this album, but it is the kind of sadness you can dance to. You go through his journey to getting diagnosed with depression in “Changes” while you bop your head to “Drugs & The Internet,” which is pretty self-explanatory, in a way.
And I guess this is how Ari (and pretty much most of the millennials and Gen Z people) are feeling right now. His is a one-man boyband – a multi-faceted artist with a penchant for vulnerability and irony that you can dance to. “Modern Loneliness” is the perfect song to become the twisted anthem of a sad generation.
There are some hits and misses in ~how i’m feeling~, just like there is in every other album, and I guess we can attribute that to life as well. But for the most part, it’s honest, groovy and extremely relatable. We can’t all be perfect. But this is as close as we can get to it.
Featured image via Pitchfork