Review : Loney, Dear - Dear John
AllmusicSince his debut in 2007, Emil Svanängen (the man behind Loney, Dear) has managed to evade easy categorization. It's simply not enough to say that he sounds like Jens Lekman, seeing how the main draw of Svanängen's work has less to do with his lyrics and more to do with mood. He's more like pop-oriented multi-instrumentalists like Tobias Fröberg and Sufjan Stevens; Loney, Dear is a quirky, bittersweet master of atmosphere. Svanängen sophomore effort, 2009's Dear John, picks up where his first album left off; like Loney, Noir, Dear John is chock-full of luminous instrumental textures and heartfelt lyrics. That said, Dear John is clearly more adult than its predecessor; the production is sleeker, the arrangements are more studied. Thankfully, Dear John's maturity doesn't mean that it lacks the fun stuff that made Svanängen's first album shine. Dear John's upbeat moments, ranging from the chic synth flourishes of "Airport Surroundings" to the joyful whistling on "I Was Only Going Out," are simply a delight. Similar to Svanängen's debut, Dear John is strongest when it strikes a balance between mournfulness and optimism. The album only sags when Svanängen lets things get a mite too plodding and somber; "Harm/Slow," perhaps sentencing itself to sogginess by borrowing its tune from Tomaso Albinoni's "Adagio," is simply not the most engaging moment on the album. That said, this is the disc's only real stumble, and overall Svanängen seems to have learned a lesson or two about pacing since Loney, Noir. Dear John shows that Svanängen has really gotten his act together; it makes good on all the tremulous, tender, wistful promise of his debut....full text
DustedmagazineLoney Dear is the musical nom de plume of Emil Svanängen, a prolific young songwriter from Sweden whose homemade CD-Rs garnered enough buzz to attract American indie imprints Sub Pop (who reissued his debut, Loney Noir), and Polyvinyl (Svanängen’s current label patron).
With the success of Peter, Bjorn and John and Jens Lekman, it seems that Swedepop has hit its Stateside zenith. Whether Svanängen and Loney Dear confirm the trend’s durability or are the harbingers of an inevitable decline probably depends on which side of the fjord you’re on.
Loney Dear’s latest, Dear John, is an endearing slice of small sigh indie-pop, well ornamented and too cute by half. Melodically, it’s not dissimilar to American retro-miserablists Midlake, but with more analog electronics. Svanängen’s voice conveys a tenderness that borders on the feeble – sometimes you want to shake the kid – but it’s easy to be lulled by the sadsack tinkle. Next thing you know, you’re wallowing along, thinking dreamily about socialized medicine and wishing your shoes were clogs....full text
SlantmagazineThere's a frenetic, cyclical rhythmic pattern to so many of the songs on Emil Svanänen's fifth album as Loney Dear, Dear John, that it's no surprise to learn that the Swedish multi-instrumentalist was once a pro cyclist. Indeed, there's a subtle '80s-horror-film underpinning to songs like the opening track "Airport Surroundings" and "Everything Turns to You," which rollicks with an undercurrent of electricity (or adrenaline, if you will), that gives them an urgency one imagines a marathoner might feel in his or her quest for some distant endgame. Svanänen wisely paces himself, building songs one layer upon the next until they cascade into cacophonies of plucky strings, bursts of brass, sparkly synths, and clattering percussion. Svanänen's voice isn't unpleasant, but whenever the meter drops below 120 beats per minute, as it does on the suicide dirge "Harm," his nasally, somewhat nondescript indie-timbre leaves much to be desired (halfway through the song, the original melody is replaced by Albinoni's "Adaggio," which deserves better than the clumsy phrasing and awkward vowels Svanänen offers to accompany it). What makes Dear John stronger than last year's Loney, Noir, then, is Svanänen's ability to compensate for his shortcomings with arrangements that reference his disparate influences (Kraftwerk, U2, and—presumably—his childhood clarinet teacher). The whimsical whistling of "I Was Only Going Out" nearly rivals Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks," the propulsive "Distant" is buoyed by an angelic choir seemingly cheering him on from the heavens, while the album's centerpiece, "Under a Silent Sea," is a folk-techno hybrid that climaxes in a heady mix of beats and buzzes that would make a perfect accompaniment for any long-sought finish line....full text
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