Editor’s note: This article contains expletives. The author quoted Lauv’s description of the album cover, song names and lyrics. They are not the author’s words.
American singer-songwriter Lauv released his debut studio album “~how i’m feeling~” on March 6, delving into the many facets of his life and relationships that define the artist’s stylized electropop sound.
Lauv — born Ari Staprans Leff — made the Billboard Top 100 with the hit single “I Like Me Better” in 2017, launching his career as a writer and vocalist as the song achieved platinum certification in seven countries. After Lauv released his debut compilation album “I Met You When I Was 18 (The Playlist),” his success on the American music scene became readily apparent. Fans streamed the album one billion times on Spotify within three months of its release. Nearly two years later, Lauv released his first studio album to kick off a new era in his career. In this artistically crafted 21-track album, Lauv introduces six different “personalities” that give fans a comprehensive look into the inspiration behind this project.
On the album cover, Lauv sits in white with mini versions of himself resting on his shoulders, forearms, legs and the ground, all of them decked out in rainbow colors. Each of the miniatures wears a different color, a concept that Lauv describes as a representation of the versions of himself portrayed in his music.
This “One Man Boy Band,” as described by Lauv, contains Existential Lauv (purple), Hopeless Romantic Lauv (blue), Goofy Lauv (green), Positive Lauv (yellow), Fuckboy Lauv (orange) and Spicy Lauv (red). Throughout the progression of this album, it becomes evident which songs are “written” by each persona, creating an album that fully encompasses Lauv as a person and artist.
Existential Lauv (purple)
Existential Lauv has the most songs on the album, including a good portion of the previously-released singles that gained the album its popularity prior to its release. “I’m so tired…,” featuring Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan, gives a strong, snapping beat that compliments the singers’ lyrics about being “so tired of love songs.” Sivan’s voice overlaps with Lauv’s in the last chorus as Sivan sings, “someone take me home / ‘cause I can’t be alone / I’m so tired,” giving depth and vulnerability to the lyrics in just a few short lines.
“Sims” also carries the themes of Existential Lauv, as the song explains meeting someone at the wrong time, wondering how things could have been in a perfect world where he could control things like in The Sims. The song playfully overlaps synth and guitar to create a piece that highlights the signature electropop characteristics that define Lauv’s sound.
With Existential Lauv, lyrics are almost always the most important and most impactful, showing the depth of Lauv’s songwriting and giving fans insight into some of his personal struggles. Songs like “Sad Forever ” tackle the hard-hitting realization of Lauv’s struggle with mental illness and his decision to start antidepressants. His verses read like a poem, and the chorus conveys a plea for happiness as he sings, “I don’t wanna be sad forever / I don’t wanna be sad no more / I don’t wanna wake up and wonder / what the hell am I doing this for.”
“Lonely Eyes” offers a sense of hope in reaching out to another person facing similar struggles, claiming to recognize her lonely eyes by saying, “I only know because I have them, too.” The pre-chorus builds into a chorus that feels straight out of an epic movie moment, using a digital keyboard and layering electronic instruments to create the perfect beat drop. The instrumentals convey a sense of release and euphoria in finding another person to relate to, perfectly complimenting the song’s moving lyrics. Existential Lauv’s sound is all about digging into the deeper moments that sometimes do not rise to the surface of day-to-day life.
Hopeless Romantic Lauv (Blue)
Known for his “Lauv songs,” the musician and his undeniable themes of love and heartbreak have become a key component of many of Lauv’s previous singles. It is no surprise that Hopeless Romantic Lauv exists; in fact, he could probably have his own album. However, amongst the many songs that show the singer’s sappier side, three songs stand out as the quintessential love songs that define the Hopeless Lauv personality.
“Tattoos Together” adds a surprisingly upbeat track that playfully dances around saying “I love you” in both the lyrics and jumpy rhythms. “Feelings” repeats the bright, catchy guitar chords and layers on piano and drums, creating a bouncy tune explaining how “feelings are hard to find” in modern times, but he is falling in love.
Both “Tattoos Together” and “Feelings” show the pure joy and excitement of new love, but “Mean It” takes a different approach to love. This track shows the terrifying nature of opening up to someone you care about and trusting them with your heart. Featuring American indie-pop band LANY, the song seems to be a perfect mesh of the artistic voices of both LANY and Lauv, creating a unique sound for the album that is not present in any other song. The harmonies and layered vocals make “Mean It” a song with depth and richness that one cannot create with a single voice; the addition of LANY to this track is nothing short of perfection.
Hopeless Romantic Lauv explores the many facets of love, showing listeners more than just a set of one-dimensional, cheesy love songs. Of the six personalities, Hopeless Romantic Lauv is the only one to keep the singer’s original hair color and haircut, giving his songs the reminiscent feel of classic Lauv love songs like “I Like Me Better.”
Goofy Lauv (Green)
Lauv is never one to take himself too seriously, showing his playful nature with Goofy Lauv and the songs “fuck, i’m lonely” and “Billy.” The lyrics of “fuck, i’m lonely” are relatable and comedic as he sings “it’s just me, myself and why did you go” to one of the most upbeat combinations of digital instruments on the album. The bass level in the chorus of “Billy” seems like one that could blow the speakers, and the song appears to be about a boy who made something of his life despite challenges. The comedy and goofiness of this song however, comes from the knowledge that Billy is the name of Lauv’s tiny Pomeranian puppy. Whether or not the character in the song may be representative of a bigger, more hopeful outlook on life, it is pretty entertaining to know that the original Billy is an adorable, spunky pup.
While Goofy Lauv does not dominate this album, little glimpses of him appear dispersed throughout the album, sprinkling in songs like these amongst tracks dedicated to heavier topics.
… Alright, here’s Billy.
Positive Lauv (Yellow)
While dealing with mental illness, Lauv has always maintained a great support system for fans through positive tweets, inspiring texts via Community.com and with uplifting music.
“Changes” is the song that most obviously belongs to Positive Lauv, sticking to simple piano chords and drums to highlight the importance of the lyrics in this track. Talking about the positive changes he will be making in his life, Lauv shows the steps he is making toward bettering himself, inspiring fans to do the same. “Invisible Things” also follows suit, explaining how the happiest moments of life derive from “the invisible things” he loves the most.
Although “For Now” initially seems like an incredibly sad song, a closer look at the lyrics reveals a positive outlook on a bad situation. Addressing the difficulties of a long-distance relationship, this song is the only one that features the soft finger-picking of an acoustic guitar. The truth of missing someone who is thousands of miles away shines through in the sheer softness of “For Now.” However, instead of dwelling on the sadness of the situation, Lauv decides to focus on the positive by singing, “I’m really gonna miss you but I’ll kiss you through the screen / for now, ‘til you come home to me.” This is a song of hope for the reunion of two lovers despite their current physical distance.
Fuckboy Lauv (Orange)
Fuckboy Lauv needs no introduction. Most obviously, he shows himself in the song “Drugs & the Internet,” but I would dare to say that he presents himself in “Julia” most prominently. After a nasty breakup with singer-songwriter Julia Michaels in December, Michaels posted on her Instagram story that her New Years’ Resolution was “no more dating narcissists,” prompting many to believe that “Julia” would be a bit of a diss track. However, Lauv surprised fans with a heartbreaking song that admits all of his faults in the relationship, admitting his hurtful behavior that all seemed characteristic of Fuckboy Lauv in hindsight. The instrumentals are almost nonexistent, as the song is accompanied by a single four-chord progression on piano. The song is not about the instruments; the depth of this song comes directly from the insane vulnerability in the lyrics. It is truly gut-wrenching and deeply touching, and for his honesty in the ways he messed up, “Julia” is categorized as a Fuckboy Lauv song for an entirely different reason. While Fuckboy Lauv is not the one who “wrote” this track, “Julia” represents this part of his personality that takes ownership for all of the harm he caused his ex during the relationship.
Spicy Lauv (Red)
Spicy Lauv has one obvious track on the album and it does not disappoint. “El Tejano” features Mexican singer-songwriter Sofia Reyes and infuses Latin rhythms into an anecdote about an alluring woman at Lauv’s favorite bar, El Tejano. Reyes’ verse in Spanish is the only one on the album in a language other than English, adding an unexpected twist. The track pulls traditional piano melodies typical of Latin ballroom cha-cha and pairs them with a snappy drum beat, creating a song that combines multiple genres of music in a creative way. Spicy Lauv brings Latin heat to an album otherwise devoid of any genre other than electropop.
Overall, Lauv’s first studio album brings listeners into so many moments in his life, introducing himself through his music in a way that allows fans to see him in a new light.
Lauren Knight is the 2019-2020 Entertainment Co-Editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.