Dear John is singer-songwriter Emil Svanängen's fifth album, the second proper for Seattle label Sub Pop.
Emil's singing is the most immediately binding aspect of the album, a croaky range that brings to mind Markus Acher's from the Notwist, especially as the musical context is similarly constructed. Yet while the latter's emotional capacity is undeniably consistent, he tends to lapse into banal vocal patterns and a whiny falsetto that scrapes at times. This is not to say that the songs are unattractive- there are promising splashes of well-programmed beats and a few catchy hooks that work well in the opening tracks, though the recurring na-na-na's get a na-na-noying after a while.
The songs are also nicely structured. However, with the album clocking in at just over 40 minutes, it feels as though the promise suggested in the stronger opening songs is never really delivered, as later tracks peter out in a wash of timid delivery and restricted ideas.
Loney Dear seems much more at home in the faster tracks, letting the rhythm carry his voice and musical ideas along to a more suitable and satisfactory denouement.
Review by Andrew Cooke
Check out some tracks from the new Loney Dear album on www.bandstandbusking.com