Following a trail blazed by fellow Swedes Jens Lekman, El Perro Del Mar, I’m From Barcelona and Peter Bjorn and John, Emil Svanangen (who records under the Loney, Dear moniker) unleashes his U.S. debut on an audience already captivated by Swedish exports. Just like he’s done with the other albums he’s released over the past few years, Svanangen recorded Loney, Noir in his home studio and is an exercise in exploring the boundaries of bedroom pop. And for the most part, Svanangen succeeds in creating an equally intimate and pleasing listen.
Svanangen sings in a thin but commanding voice; he is always hovering at the front of his songs, and his wavering, intimate vocals are both sympathetic and inviting. Musically, Svanangen amasses layers of organic arrangements by using a variety of instruments: Flutes, horns, electronics, accordions, whistles and handclaps float in and out of songs, adding layers of depth to his sound. “I Am John” is the highlight, a delicate yet assertive melody transforming into a hodgepodge of bells, horns and a dazzling, precious falsetto. “I Will Call You Lover Again” begins with simple keyboard and percussion and slowly surges into a medley of electronics, horns and a chorus of harmony vocals. And Svanangen knows his limitations: His voice cannot match overbearing instrumentation, and he co-exists with his songs by allowing all instruments proper room to breathe, permitting his warm intimacy to reach its potential.
The charm of bedroom pop is conjoining raw, emotional vocals with organic instrumentation. Occasionally, Svanangen gets bogged down in over-processing the complexity of his arrangements, gets lost in his vocal performance. But Svanangen has a wholly human presence on Loney, Noir, easy to invest in and equally easy to reap rewards from.