Phangs – N°1 Loves You
Words: Ryan Getz
How should I introduce a pop artist that I’ve discussed on this blog several times before? Who knows. So here’s an awkward non-intro. Hopefully the review will stir you to listen to this EP anyhow, though.
I realized as I was penning that intro that there are parallels between how I feel when writing on this blog sometimes, and the persona of Phangs. Phangs doesn’t always have the most polished persona, but the product he puts out is about as polished as it gets. With this in mind, I marveled recently reading a post in which he detailed how his smash “Always Been U” (such a banger live!) came together on Garage Band software, vocals for himself and Reggie (R.LUM.R) recorded DIY style. When you hear the persona and the songs all together in one package, you start to understand why fans are taking a liking to Phangs.
I could also just say that the songs are just really catchy and well written and offer that as the reason for why fans are flocking Phangs’ way, and that would be equally true.
So why the diatribe above when discussing a three song EP? Because this release seems to be a culmination of everything Phangs has been building so far. These three songs are heard best through a paradigm set by previous releases Get In My Arms and Happy Season. Through these releases we get to experience all stages of a relationship. According to Phangs, N°1 Loves You “dives into the psyche of a breakup.”
“Bathroom Floor” might be my favorite of the EP, simply for it’s massive sound. If a sound could be described as arena dream-pop, this would be it. I was most struck by the way the pre-chorus ramps up in a way that will be very thrilling live. When reading the background of the song, however, I understood that this effect was chosen for reasons beyond it just being thrilling. “It’s the initial shock and flood of why’s and what if’s that invade our brains and hearts when something is out of control,” Phangs explains, describing the initial low point that follows a break up. That crescendo parallels the feeling of being out of control one might have in that circumstance.
The title track, “N°1 Loves You,” articulates the thought process that follows that period of shock—calmer yet not yet in a place of acceptance. The backdrop takes a more downtempo feel, articulating the initial comedown, almost like a stage of grief. The song steadily gets more layered, indicating that the protagonist isn’t quite to that healthy stage and still has some turmoil to wade through.
“Nothing To Do With You” begins quietly, like reaching that stage of acceptance in a period of loss can often feel. Reaching rock bottom in a period of deep darkness often immediately precedes the path to healing, and this song is a pop articulation of that moment of just starting to turn the corner. The period of deepest darkness is necessary to cross in order to find that moment where healing can begin, where “to be able to take the time to heal and grow and not function from a place of reaction to a person or situation, but rather from a place of love for yourself,” Phangs explains.
Oh, and did I mention that these layered and nuanced songs all accomplish their goals in a very catchy way? I would say the songs are honest but never get to a place where they’re downers. That’s not the kind of artist Phangs is.