Few artists have as much cult status kudos as Emil Svanangen, the solo Swede behind Loney, Dear.
He’s been releasing homemade CD-Rs since the early 2000s (four albums, to be precise), before getting deals with Sub Pop and Polyvinyl and becoming an anti-hero for fans of folk, indie and electronica . ‘Dear John’ has been touted as his “masterpiece” be some reviewers, although many others would say that 2007’s ‘Loney, Noir’ gets that title, this album is still very good indeed, if sometimes formulaic.
Most of the songs here, like the King Creosote-like folktronica of ‘Airport Surroundings’, begin with fizzing electronics before building up to a crescendo of orchestral instruments, harmonies and sad, longing lyrics. Fortunately it’s a formula that works well, and the likes of ‘Everything Turns To You’, ‘Violent’ and the title track are reminiscent of indie/Americana legends Grandaddy’s magnum opus ‘The Sophtware Slump’.
There are some surprise s though, none more so than album centrepiece ‘Under A Silent Sea’. It begins as a chillily, with delicate, tricksy guitar work and foreboding strings, before an unexpected rush of tribal drums and trance synths (like Orbital or Underworld) come in, alongside a menacing Balearic music box piano riff. It’s ripe for remixing – as most of the LP is – by the likes of Hot Chip and Maps. Elsewhere there’s a more softly-softly approach, on ‘Harsh Words’ and ‘I Was Only Going Out’; modern sea shanties backed by a bedroom Arcade Fire. ‘Dear John’ is a gorgeous journey full on melancholic lyrics and upbeat music.