Album Review: Dear John by Loney, Dear

4 Jun
Loney, Dear

Loney, Dear

Sweden’s Loney, Dear is one of the great indie DIY success stories. Songwriter Emil Svanängen (the band’s name is actually a pseudonym) recorded his first four albums: The Year of River Fontana (2003), Citadel Band (2004), Loney, Noir (2005) and Sologne (2006) all without the aid of anything more than a home computer and a microphone.

In 2007 the band signed with Sup Pop Records, re-releasing Loney, Noir. The same year Svanängen and his live band earned widespread exposure after touring with indie glam revivalists of Montreal. Now on Polyvinyl Records, Loney, Dear released their first label-supported album, Dear John, in January. Those who have paid attention have been pleasantly surprised—that is, if they’ve never heard the band before.

To be sure, the band’s characteristic lo-fi indie pop feel is present on the new record. But it’s what Svanängen has added that makes this album the band’s best. Now signed to a label, it would have been easy for the group to forget what brought fans to them in the first place. Instead, Svanängen expands upon his past musical output, complimenting the style that made him an underground hit with the songwriting maturity he has developed over the course of five albums.

Songs like the lead “Airport Surroundings” are a perfect example of how, for Svanängen’s songwriting, less equals more–the song feels deliberately powerful yet effortless. Its highly danceable beat and hand claps mix seamlessly with glistening keyboards, while Svanängen croons, “You are all I want.”

It’s the organic touch that helps make Dear John so memorable. And in truth, it’s how Loney, Dear won over my heart. Instead of relying on flashy, over-produced gimmicks like so many bands, Svanängen builds these songs from the ground up. The marriage between the natural and the mechanical elements on the record meet, but instead of feeling awkward, feel like they were meant to be together.

Like watching a great athlete, it’s easy to listen to this album and think “It sounds so simple, I bet I could do this.” But of course, the true magic of the album is that it is deceptively complex. The album is a lot like a human being: there are things you might change if you could, but there is no denying the amazing work and inherent beauty that went into its creation.

Standout Tracks: “Airport Surroundings” and “Violent”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Biggest Strength: Finding the beauty in simplicity.
Biggest Weakness: Like many albums, the middle drags a bit.
The Final Word: Much of the album’s strength comes from its simplicity. Whether through lyrics or the music itself, less proves to be much more for Loney, Dear.

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