At the age of 20, Ari Leff, alternatively known as Lauv, dropped his debut single “The Other,” in March 2015, giving the internet a first glimpse of his musical genius, and it has since amassed over 167 million streams on Spotify. Three years since his debut, the indie-pop artist reinforces his strength as a solo artist with the release of his album “I met you when I was 18” as he depicts the journey of falling in love for the first time.
It’s quite hard these days to find a pop song with equally good music and lyrics, but Lauv easily masters this craft. Lauv digitally produces unique tunes by mixing different acapellas and layers of his voice.
Remixing vocals into instrumentals are familiar concepts in hip-hop, a-capella, and folk music, but the sorrowful fragility of Lauv’s carefully controlled vocals alongside his diverse production expertise creates a refreshing new sound that his audience and the industry had never heard before. Yet, drawing its influence from a wide variety of genres, such as jazz, EDM and R&B, Lauv’s sound is also unmistakably familiar.
The difficult task of a songwriter is to write lyrics that not only describe emotions, but elicit them. Lauv does exactly so. His lyrics have a meaningful impact to all of us whether or not we have experienced the same story. “I met you when I was 18” particularly represents a full-circle deep dive into the relatable innocence of a young romantic.
The playlist starts off with an exposition into the sweet simplicity of his first love with the playful song “I Like me Better,” which has garnered over 439 million hits and counting on Spotify. What stands out in this track is this string-like tune he adds in his chorus that he produces through fusing multiple layers of his voice.
His track “Paranoid” perfectly sums up romance’s darker side, revealing the agonizing jealousy that plagued each relationship. Filled with emotional lyrics, hard staccato beats, and breathtaking falsettos, this song showcases Lauv’s talents as a songwriter, producer and singer.
My favorite is his heartbreaking piano ballad “The Story Never Ends.” In contrast to the other tracks with complex beats and EDM inspired production, Lauv brings the focus to his gifted falsettos with the simplicity of piano accompaniment, revealing a surprisingly vulnerable side to his radio pop star persona.
Is Lauv the next Sam Smith? To me, he’s more akin to the Beatles, dynamically reinventing his familiar inspirations against the backdrop of pop music’s constant evolution.