Abba. H&M. Peter, Bjorn and Ikea. Sweden just won’t quit. Nor will Emil Svanangen. Also Swedish. Svanangen left behind a career as a pro-cyclist to make music, reincarnating himself as Loney Dear in the early 2000s. Apparently, Loney Dear hasn’t heard of writer’s block. Between 2003 and 2006, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist would self-release four albums; The Year of River Fontana, Citadel Band, Loney Noir and Sologne. So began the underground buzz that caught the attention of Sub Pop in 2006, and with the re-release of Loney Noir in 2007, the blogosphere lit up and Loney Dear got his big break stateside.
He has since moved on to decidedly lower-key Polyvinyl Records, on which 2009’s Dear John was released and most recently, Hall Music.
The first thing you need to know about Hall Music is that Loney Dear has been feeling emotional. He’s going to talk about his feelings, which may tug at your heartstrings. It’s going to sound sweet and pretty and hopeful and sad. He invites comparisons to Bon Iver, with heartfelt songs that sound like they were written by someone that needed to be alone for awhile but ultimately longs for companionship. They are also best taken in on a Sunday afternoon when you want to be alone for awhile and have the chance to be.
It is not to take away from his lyrical aptitude, nor his vocal prowess, to suggest that Loney Dear is most invested in the instrumentation of his work. You may not notice it at first, but a number of his songs hold but a couple of phrases, yet when repeated and reinterpreted throughout they gain momentum and stay with you. His use of percussion is especially innovative and there is an orchestral quality to his work that continually surprises.
The opening track ‘Name’ is one of the best, capturing what it’s like to first fall for someone, with a desire pure and simple, uncomplicated by what is yet to come. It serves as an ideal introduction to an album that further delves into the complexities of a relationship as it unfolds. ‘Maria, Is That You’ stands out as the most memorable track, where Loney Dear’s many talents effortlessly collide into something majestic yet understated. Keep listening.