Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CD Review: LONEY, NOIR - LONEY, DEAR (Sub Pop)

Saturday, April 21, 2007 

Brilliant melodies seem as Swedish as Ikea (The Cardigans, ABBA, I'm From Barcelona, The Wannadies, Roxette, Peter Bjorn and John, perfect examples), and this album marks yet another chapter in the lexicon of Scandinavian melodic pop perfection. As fragile and twee as Ikea is, Loney, Dear are essentially a one-man (Emil Svanängen's) band, and this album marks his first release outside of Sweden where he has released several albums including this one, in 2005. Loney, Noir is a variously thrilling, gentle, pastoral, intimate and, at times, gloriously uplifting, though never raising the volume beyond a Nick Drake coo. Opening track, single, and highlight I Am John begins with gentle strumming and earnest vocals, lulling you in with a music box-like delivery before gradually layering the insistent melodies with wafting horns, stumbling drums, sparkling xylophone and climactic falsetto harmonies. It's intoxicating stuff and is begging a US indie film to soundtrack a "boy runs through the rain to his heartbroken lover" scene to it. Much of the rest of the album wallows in adolescent love, sensory indulgence and a relentless sense of hope which it justifies by the sheer understated charm and nagging insistence of the melodies. Carrying A Stone and I Won't Cause Anything At All are gorgeous works, the natural imagery melding perfectly with his paeans to longing and transcendence. The home recording production adds to the sense of intimacy tightly and that smothering-blanket warmth suits the lyrics which maintain a direct appeal even when the instrumentation becomes a soaring wall that approaches an acoustic Sigur Ros in proportion at times. The truth is though, as appealing as a handsome Swedish man cooing songs of hope and warm devotion to you is, it is a welcome that can be outstayed. As beautiful as those Scandinavian summers are, and as striking as their residents are, those days are damn long and it is possible to have too much of a good thing. A very good thing.

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