Track By Track: LANKS extensively breaks down his debut album, twentyseven
Catch the Melbourne-via-Sydney musician on a nation-wide headline tour this August.
Spanning 14 tracks and a touch under an hour in length, twentyseven is LANKS at his most personal and open. The Sydney-via-Melbourne's debut album, out today through the recently formed THAA Records, delves into his personal struggles and relationships, whether it's with friends, collaborators or his now-wife Tacey, each highlighting the highs and lows as he progresses as a musician and as a person. Following a bunch of EPs and singles across the last four years, twentyseven sees LANKS put everything on the table - both musically and personally - reminding us why he's one of Australia's best newcomers while also hinting at an experimental and exciting future ahead.
The whole album is out now, and comes with a full headline tour in August - dates at the bottom. To celebrate the album's release and better help us understand the album's inner workings and context, LANKS has broken down each single of the record in an incredibly detailed track-by-track. Read it all below while you dive into his expansive, debut album below:
twentyseven Track-By-Track, by LANKS:
Man is about challenging the idea of what we have always defined as Man, and the pressure we have felt to be this archaic idea of violent and masculine strength. It talks about how my female partner Tacey shows me what true strength is, and how it’s more about resilience and emotional maturity. It takes more strength to open up emotionally than to knock down a wall. It is less tangible also. The music reflects that internal struggle of learning how to become the man I want to become.
“they talk of ‘man’ but you can see
What bravery is without a violent streak
My skin has shades of you
The courage lacked I finally grew
look what you helped me do”
Something In The Water:
It’s about the time when Tacey left her full-time job and I loved having her around so much more. It was very reminiscent of the early days of our relationship. We were both working at home and then going and getting lunch together, doing a few more hours in the afternoon and then cooking dinner together. I was just writing about how I never wanted it to end.
twentyseven is about my anxiety around achievement and how much pressure I had always placed on myself in this regard. I always felt comforted that some of my heroes (Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain etc.) had achieved what they wanted by the time they were 27 and I was still younger than that and had potential.
This birthday had always loomed over me as a crucial deadline that I had to meet and when I finally reached it I found an inner calm that life is about much more than achievement, and actually everyone achieves their dreams in their own time, and just to relax and feel so proud that I’ve created honest art that I love and will look back on very proudly at the end of my life I think.
It’s not capitalised because I think when I reached twenty-seven I realised it wasn’t such a big deal. It’s just a number and self-belief and fulfilment isn’t really about achieving more things, it’s about the quality of things you are creating and putting out in the world.
It’s written for a friend of mine and it was my attempt at writing something to help heal someone who’d been through an intense experience. I felt so brave writing it, but when it came out, I still found it so uncomfortable telling the story properly. But actually it’s about my friend who was helping someone with their mental health and that person committed suicide. It absolutely devastated her and I can only try to imagine what that would be like.
Part of the song was trying to focus on how symbiotic the relationship can be when people are sharing about mental health, and how helping people in mental health really helped her mental health. It also forebodes the awful event that ruined that for her, but I tried to write the song to tell her how brave and selfless she was.
My Own Mystery:
The story of my long distance relationship. Tacey and I were separately living in different cities this year when she got her dream job at the New York Times. It was really hard not having each other around to support through that time, when she had been such a big part of my support creating the album up to that point (and I was a big part of the support for her). We both listened to the demo of this song when we missed each other.
It felt right to have the female perspective in the song, as I think I learned how mutual these feelings were, despite me looking at Tacey as a pillar of stability and having-her-shit-together with her career and everything. Tacey doesn’t sing much so I let her choose who plays her role, and she chose Ngaiire, who we both love. Ngaiire is also our landlord now weirdly enough.
Circles is a flashback to the early days of our relationship where we weren’t really sure what we were or how to be in a relationship. The line that really sums it up is ‘you don’t call it home here’. After living together for a year, Tacey still called her mum’s place ‘home’, and not where we lived. We are well and truly past this now, but it’s nice to reflect on it now and see how far we’ve grown. The picture painted is from inside our apartment in Windsor we lived in at the time, and I really associate this song with that picture.
It was inspired by a friend’s story, music photographer Jess Gleeson. We were just starting to become friends and we had lunch when I was up in Sydney, and we immediately had this friendship that was very open and was clicking.
She was telling me the story of her new relationship and the picture she painted was so vivid and sweet. That very initial stage of a relationship and the excitement that brings. There was also a funny twist I remember how he kind of liked her friend but she was really trying to tell him that actually, she was the one who liked him. And she just wanted him to feel the same basically. I went through a very similar start to my relationship, so I connected immediately.
In Melbourne, we lived in a house that used to be an old chemical factory, called the Phoenix Chemical Factory. I lived with Tacey and my best friends, Jess (who plays in my live band) and Will (my graphic designer), there.
They were 2 of the most important people on this record as I showed every demo to them and they were so constructive with their feedback and helped challenge me and shape this album. We would make breakfast and listen to demos and they’d tell me which ones made them want to dance, or cry or feel things. Some of the songs on the record I hadn’t even considered as songs until they pushed me to develop them!
So when the album was basically done I realised I didn’t have a song about them! I wrote this song and they both sing on it. Jess sings in the verses and Will is part of the group vocal in the bridge. This song is for them.
It’s about a friendship that went sour after we worked together. Honestly, I still can’t pinpoint exactly why. I wasn’t as good at communicating ideas at the time and she probably wasn’t quite listening properly either and made something that didn’t fit right. It was a very short and intense friendship breakup, as I wanted to confront the issue and talk through it and she wanted to not speak to me. Two people still learning how to deal with problems I guess?
Soon after she was moving to London and it just kind of ended our friendship. It was weird, but I made this song out of it so I guess it’s not all bad? I still miss that friendship from time to time, but some things in life just end and that’s it.
I can never really tell who this song was about unless I one day get to know them better and we can find ourselves together laughing about it. Mostly because it’s about someone who I greatly admired and looked up to, a hero of mine.
I met them and the irony hit me hard. I had always credited this person with having helped me out of depression and helped me find my purpose playing music because I loved their art and connected so deeply, but when I met them, I realised he was more lost than I think I ever have been. Also though, I only met them once so I may be wrong and I would hate to put out a song that could in any way harm them or have misunderstood their situation.
It was just super weird to be honest. And the idea of horoscopes here is just those people who we look up and put on a pedestal, but really we are the ones controlling our destiny. I don’t believe in horoscopes.
It’s partly about my relationship but also just a message for someone that they’re not alone and that things are gonna be alright. Reach out for help when you need it, we’re here to help. The music says more here I think than any blurb I can write.
Another chance meeting with someone I looked up to who was really rude and dismissive of me when I was actually just telling them how I liked their art. Someone whose bitterness had bubbled to the surface and was present in this chance meeting.
I wasn’t angry about it; I honestly felt the pain she was feeling and that struggle. We all have dark times where our jealousy and competitiveness can choke us. This song is about that struggle’s presence in all of our lives and how we are searching for balance and trying to keep those feelings under control because ultimately we are hurting ourselves more than anything. This is the story of how all of us juggle our ambitions with our support of our friends and peers, which is something we should all be doing. If you can’t enjoy your friend's achievements your life is not yet full. Humbleness is a lesson for all of us.
My Artistic Idol:
It’s about my grandma! Valda is my idol. She has created some of the most beautiful artwork I could ever imagine, and I grew up running through the rooms of my grandparents house and admiring her creations. Grandma is now 88 years old and still creates more work than most of my friends. She is not scared of technology and creates work on her iPad and computer art, and if I can be half the human she is in my lifetime, I will have succeeded in life. Grandma created all the art on my Viet Rose EP and she has been collaborating with my friends Will Devereux and Hayden Daniel on the album art pieces.
It’s about sharing your life with someone and finding that self-reflection and humbleness to say ‘it’s not all about me’. My life is changing and my music the amount of people that I have only dreamed of!
I witnessed someone go through the rapid growth that rapid growth and lose their grounding a bit. It was someone that I greatly admire and it hit me pretty hard, as my guiding light had dimmed and left me in the dark. However, through that person had met another, and I spent time with him in Sydney with my partner Tacey. He showed me videos of his little daughter and he was so proud of her, and his partner is smart, and high achieving and his adoration of her was present in every word.
In the music industry you hear some pretty awful stories of people cheating and generally doing selfish and awful things, and watching him I realised he was everything I wanted to be. This song is ultimately about the love of my life and how I want to be the best human for her (and to everyone!) then I can be.
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