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Loney, Dear 

Loney, Noir. (Sub Pop)

Wednesday, May 30 2007
Emil Svanängen has a knack for the understated. One of those conductor-without-an-orchestra types, the Swedish multi-instrumentalist otherwise known as Loney, Dear flaunts his rocker capabilities in the Grandaddyish blog buzz tune "I Am John." But decibels don't really suit him. The moments most worth revisiting on his formal debut, Loney, Noir, could easily slide by undetected.

"Hard Days" begins and ends with a solitary syncopated handclap; flute, tambourine, light guitar, and heavy drums rise and fall in the middle. Later on in the disc "No One Can Win" and "I Will Call You Lover Again" demurely waltz along to woodwind ad libs and wistful romantic sentiments.

If all this sounds a bit twee, well, at times Loney lands in that direction. In a post-Stephin Merritt listening environment, this kind of delicate pop could dissolve into a saccharine background of sameness if you're not paying attention. But lend it your ear. Listen to the disc on headphones, laying down. Dig the simple, tabletop percussion in "Saturday Waits." Notice Svanängen's voice moving from a low purr into an urgent, energetic crescendo in "Carrying a Stone," as bassoons and xylophones swell alongside a guitar. Suddenly he seems less like just another solo artist overdubbing his way into symphony halls, more like a bona fide bedroom composer. John Vettese

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John Vettese


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