Lane Beckstrom is already a seasoned musician and known band member in the Chicago music space, getting his start as a teenager in the hip-hop band Kids These Days. He’d go on to play and collaborate with other groups like Knox Fortune, The JuJu Exchange, and with Chance The Rapper and Nico Segal’s project, Donnie Trump & The Social Experiment’s album Surf. Over the past ten years, he’s become an in-demand bass player within Chicago, but he’s now putting out music as a solo artist. Beckstrom’s debut LP, Looking Out, is an emotive collection of tracks that finds a neat home within the indie pop genre.
Certain albums have a way of easing you into an easy listening journey from the get-go. Looking Out, released with Fresh Selects, does just that across its 13 songs that meander their way through an original and colorful, lively world of Beckstrom’s own creation. With a prominent sound of bass guitar, keyboard, and synths throughout, the entire album has an immediate dreamy sound that moves smoothly from one song to the next—really setting a contemplative tone for itself. And while this isn’t necessarily new to the indie pop genre, with introspective lyrics and sound being a staple, Beckstrom’s reflections on both intimate relationships and the broader world at large make for a unique entry into the space.
The second track, “Parachute,” opens the album with a very airy, sunny sound. Percussion, synths, and some really fun use of clapping all blend together for a mellow song that has a floaty vibe to it—a vibe found across the whole of Looking Out. The song also highlights a recurring theme in the album: an important partner appearing in Beckstrom’s life. Beckstrom ends the track with lines that highlight the impact this partner has had, “If you are my parachute / then I promise you / I’ve never fallen so slow in my life,” that we hear plenty more of as the album continues.
The exploration of this partner is prominent in many of the songs but never feels too overwhelming, giving the bright, warm world plenty of time to shine, as well. With track titles like “Two Birds,” “Animals,” “Daisies,” and “Two Birds,”—in which he sings, “But two birds showed me the way to fly / Put me back up in the sky, and I know why / I see search in your eyes”—there’s a focus on life and nature written into the makeup of this album that works well alongside the exploration of the narrator’s relationship.
“Sharks” shows these two elements together really nicely. Opening with a rhythmic drum sequence, the track continues the overarching ethereal sound with funky synths and piano as Beckstrom takes us right to his fictional island—where explorations of island and partner alike take place. Through the lines “Sharks in the water / bite my feet / making me forget what I know” and “When I rest my head I feel you there,” we’re transported to a winding swim through a journey that feels very much internal and external in equal measures.
Looking Out is a psychedelic indie pop album that is cohesive from start to finish, delivering a smooth but equally rich collection of songs. With Paul Cherry serving as co-producer, known for his own 70s-infused, jazzy music that makes use of synths, just as Beckstrom does, the album delivers a final blend of songs that feel and sound equally delightful. Beckstrom’s debut LP demonstrates a strong, distinct style from the musician that anyone looking for a truly summery album can enjoy.