Swedish multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanangen is all about the D.I.Y. work ethic. His homemade music, done under the name Loney, Dear, is some of the most surprisingly beautiful experimental pop you will hear this year. Although Loney, Noir is his Sub Pop debut, this is not his first album. He has recorded and self-released four other albums over the past few years, recorded in his studio apartment and his parents' basement. His other albums were sold as CD-Rs, with several thousand copies purchased thanks to some pretty impressive word of mouth. Of course, music this brilliant definitely deserves such buzz and praise.
The album begins with the melancholy folk song "Sinister In A State Of Hope," with little more than an organ, acoustic guitar, saxophone and Svanangen's falsetto vocals sounding like a much more straightforward Sigur Ros meshed with early Grandaddy. Fans of early Belle & Sebastian should enjoy "I Am John," an upbeat track that would fit nicely in a Wes Anderson film with its sunny melody. Handclaps abound on "Hard Days 22.214.171.124," a song so bright and catchy you can't help but get sucked in.
On his simpler material, Svanangen reminds me a bit of Adem, using eclectic instrumentation such as bells, whistles and layers of vocal harmonies. These shine through on "I Am The Odd One" and "I Could Stay." There are a few subtle moments of Postal Service and/or early Grandaddy, including the albums closing track, "And I Won't Cause Anything At All." Svanangen doesn't shy away from electronic beats, but he uses them in such a sparse way they simply complement the track rather than become the focal point.
Loney, Dear has given us a wonderful collection of indie-folk-pop that grows more and more with each listen. Emil Svanangen's stellar musicianship and impressive vocal range makes for a thrilling listen. He easily shifts between different musical genres, vocal personalities and moods throughout Loney, Noir, making me curious to hear his previous four albums as well.