Nashville-based alt-pop artist Phangs comes out with his debut album Who's Gonna Break Your Heart Tonight? In it, Phangs demonstrates his skills as a singer-songwriter and proves that he can get anyone dancing with his hypnotic undertones and cinematic melodies.
Phangs already gave fans a sneak peak to the latest release with singles “Tanlines’ and “When I’m All Alone.” Throughout most of the album, a plethora of chill pop tracks like “Powerline” and a remix of Paula Abdul’s smash hit “Straight Up” feature '80s New Wave with various slow dance synths.
Who's Gonna Break Your Heart Tonight? is mingled with interludes that combine various samples and music taken from the likes of voicemails and television programs. Phangs brings it home with power-driven synths and electric guitars in the groovy closer “Tear it Up."
In an interview with EARMILK, Phangs shared, "I wrote an entire album last year, just for the sake of making a full length. But when it was done, it didn't feel real enough. It just felt phoned in, I guess. So I threw the whole thing away and really got to the root of when music, as a listening experience, became important to me. I loved sitting at home, in my room, with the door shut, just living inside of an album. I loved reading the liner notes. I loved the details, the interludes, the stories, and even my own interpretations of the stories. That's what felt real. Who's Gonna Break Your Heart Tonight? is me reconnecting to when music became important to me. And I hope it can be important to someone else now."
While you listen to Who's Gonna Break Your Heart Tonight? below, read along with Phang as he shares his thoughts and stories behind each track.
Track by track breakdown
Who’s Gonna Break Your Heart Tonight?
I wanted to create an intro that really set the tone for the album. Something that felt direct and to the point. So I went with a minimal track and a weighted lyric for “Who’s Gonna Break Your Heart Tonight?” As you listen through the album, you understand there’s a bit of a concept that is intertwined (which is also a nod to where Phangs first began) that is this back and forth state of “I’m okay, wait no I’m not”.
Build Me Up
I wrote Build Me Up while on tour with Nightly, to me, this song felt like an uplifting and energized track that perfectly transitions away from the calming intro of WGBYHT?. This song is one of the few that I got to perform live before COVID…remember shows? I don’t think I realized it at the time of writing it in New York with my friend, Florio, but the bridge of this song has become somewhat of an anthem for a lot of my listeners. Live, it just transformed into their song, not mine. I’m thankful for that.
Powerline is a song I did with my friend Dan [Agee] that was something completely different than what I was creating at the time, but it captured that perfect 80s sound that I was looking for. It’s something that is just deeply imbedded in me.
I Wasn’t Ready
This is the first of 3 interludes. I wanted to tie this album together into three chapters. If you listen to this album start to finish, you see that these interludes serve a purpose to create depth to the songs around them and to further the frustration that you get by…I don’t know…having to function in the world today.
When I was in LA on a writing trip, I was able to write with one of my idols, Bonnie McKee on this tune. The song tells a story about a summer fling starting to dissolve, as summer turns into fall, and the heartache that follows. To me, I felt like this was super relatable to everyone.
Can’t Wait To Tell You
This song is so special to me and my family. Last year, I had my first child, and while I was on tour, I wrote this song in Los Angeles. It’s simply me telling my son that I can’t wait to tell him about the places I’ve been, or the people that I’ve met, and so much more. I was even able to sample my wife and son’s voices into this song, from a video she sent me one morning, while I was on tour.
Just A Dream
This is the second interlude on the album. I specifically wanted a transition that literally felt dreamlike and distant from the brain space that the rest of the album takes up. This one bleeds directly into the next song, where the opening line is ‘Lost in a dream’. Let this song end and the next song begin and you’ll feel it.
WOOOO okay, where to begin…so this is a cover of Paula Abdul’s 1988 classic, which is a song I always wanted to re-do, but in my own interpretation. I was with Dan [Agee] in Nashville when we did this song. We were working on a totally different song and decided to take a lunch break. While eating, we just started talking about songs we loved and I mentioned how much I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of doing this cover. […] Dan knew exactly what to do in order to cover an 80’s song as a totally different style of 80’s song. And that sax…man. I really love this one.
When I'm All Alone
This song could mean several things to different people. This one came from the (amazing) session I did with Bonnie McKee, in LA. When I wrote it, I was zooming from meeting, to co-write, to acoustic sessions, etc., and I remember having a moment at Bonnie’s home where I finally felt like I could breathe for a second. I realized, as we started writing the song, how much I actually value having those moments where I can breathe and feel what I need to. COVID wasn’t even a thing in our lives at this time, but it’s wild that this song ended up coming out when it did. It’s not a quarantine song by any means, but more so about how empowering it is to celebrate yourself however you can, and that it’s okay to be alone and love yourself.
One Good Reason
This song was a fun one to make! I created this song with Jacob and Jesse from Foreign Air, as well as Jamie N Commons. We decided to create this alt-leaning song that I felt was necessary to really round this album out, sonically. This one deals with the perspective of someone who is constantly annoyed by the people in their surroundings, but doesn’t change their outlook on life to change the situation, creating a loop of constant frustration.
Be Right There
The third and final interlude that features my drummer, Tom. Tom has become a huge part of Phangs! During shows, there will be points during the set, every single night, where my fans will scream “TOM! TOM! TOM!”, so I knew he needed to make a cameo on my debut album. He’s been a massive part of this since pretty early on, now. This interlude is really just Tom being Tom, a great friend. I wanted that type of person to be highlighted at this peak point of thematic frustration, because when we get too far into our head, sometimes we all just need a Tom to bail us out and get a new perspective.
Tear It Up
Tear It Up is perfectly summed up by its title…this live and energetic track has a massive chorus that leads into this explosive guitar solo […] I wanted my album to have a strong ending, while keeping the concept going, and I feel like this was the perfect way to end it.