Loney Dear aka Emil Svanangen’s new album Hall Music which came out today, October 4, 2011 was influenced by playing shows throughout his native Sweden with chamber orchestras and coupling that influenced the reworking of some of his older material. The result is an orchestral rooted soundscape pairing the simple and complex, the clear and the abstract, the analog and the synth, the orchestra and the one man band—it’s a beautiful, slow-rolling eccentricity.

The album starts with “Name” and singer/multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen welcomes you in with his slight Swedish drawl, “I want your name next to mine.” There is a slow symphonic buildup and a fragile trail of ahh ahh ahhs and to tell the truth, I’m not even sure if I actually like it or not, but the crispness of the melody is mesmerizing regardless. Then before I know it the next track “My Heart” sucks me in with its minimal but effective lyrics. “My heart what have I done to you? If I want to own you, if I want what’s yours, if I always, want to own you, no sadness, no disappointments, no tiredness, could get through my skin.” This Swedish dude is deep.  The song begins to pulsate with bass and drum so subtle yet funky that any 70s heavyhitter would surely be jealous. Loney Dear wins my heart over with this song which easily tops the list as my favorite on this record.

The album then proceeds to take a bit of a nosedive (for me at least). For fans of twangy bass and street cracklin’ percussion you will probably dig the smooth tune of “Blues,” but it’s a touch too sappy and feels like one big blur. “Maria, Is That You” didn’t strike a captivating chord either. However, it’s harmonious for those that relish in the Bjork-like abstract. Then we have “D-Major” with its holy Swedish Bee Gees chipmunk vocals. Although pleasant to the ear for some, the eccentric vocals tend to throw you in for a whirl.

The album begins to win my heart again with “Calm Down,” an engaging track with glorious timpanis and a perky vibraphone solo. At one point Loney Dear walked a fine line between experimental and obnoxious with his vocal range but that moment is fleeting and the orchestral sweetness boosts reassuring lyrics of trust, both of oneself and others. “Calm down, there’s nothing after you. And will you catch me, if I fall, if I go down.” In today’s modern anxiety-ridden world, best to put the pills down—phone a friend and pick up Hall Music.

The ominous vibes of organ in “Largo” and the brass attack of “Durmoil” supply an intriguing aural intensity in the latter half of the album. They come as a bit of a shock to the system but when you’re feeling musically sleepy, it’s like a caffeine jolt or cold slap in the face. Just the kind of thing you need a quick dose of to wake the fuck up and feel refreshed. The catchy “What Have I Become?”rounds out the album surprisingly well with guest female vocals (or the best damn vocal effects I ever heard) and a dance worthy beat. It seems a little mismatched but leaves me craving more—a truly magnificent ending to an odd, yet inviting album. So I suggest you come on in, kick off your shoes, and get weird with Loney Dear. You’ll feel right at home in this foreign place.

Be sure to catch Loney Dear at the Hotel Cafe on November 10. We covered Loney Dear back in October of 2009 at the Troubadour. You can check out our photos and review here.

Album Review by Emily Saex

Artist: Loney Dear
Album: Hall Music
Record Label: Polyvinyl Record Co.
Release Date: October 4, 2011

To download and listen to Loney Dear’s “My Heart” click here!