Some albums slap their listeners in the face, demanding their undivided attention and pummel them from start to finish. Other albums take a slower approach as they gradually seep into listeners' heads until they've carved out a nice niche for themselves. The best albums employ both strategies, offering a strong first impression and increasing rewards. Unfortunately, some albums can't wrap their heads around either of these concepts, making it next to impossible to listen to them from start to finish.
Loney, Noir, the first North American release from Swedish multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanangen--who goes by the unwieldy moniker Loney, Dear--falls victim to this tragic fate. Building a suite of pristine, summery pop songs, SvanÃ¤ngen's skill is there throughout Loney, Noir--it's just really hard to notice. Somehow, SvanÃ¤ngen's falsetto vocals and never simple, never-overblown arrangements fit perfectly into a pleasant background din, but never make a break for anything greater.
This is frustrating as Loney, Noir should be a good album. It's structurally beautiful pop music, even if it's a little on the syrupy side and not far removed from other typical Swedish songwriters like Jens Lekman. Despite its technical strength thoughout, the album flies through one pretty, inoffensive song after another before ending abruptly. The whole process is sadly underwhelming.