Turn First Records
It has been a busy year for Dan Croll. After attending Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, the Staffordshire native made himself known across the UK and Europe by opening for Bastille in March 2013, Imagine Dragons in Fall 2013, and London Grammar in February 2014. Dan Croll’s new album Sweet Disarray offers a fuller, more interesting take on the Brit electropop of his past tour mates.
This album is impressive because it shows musical diversity and yet remains cohesive, both in individual songs and within the album. Croll sings multilayered harmonies and plays drums, piano, electric and acoustic guitar, and synthesizer in one song. Instead of a cacophonous racket, he blends these distinct sounds into dancey pop songs with seeming effortlessness. These syntheses, especially “Can You Hear Me,” evoke the sonic intricacy of multi-instrumentalists like Bjork or Kimbra.
The songs juxtapose nicely against each other; the complexity and quality gets better with each song. The album begins with a run-of-the-mill electropop song “From Nowhere.” It’s a catchy song, but you can hear Croll’s allusions to mid-2000s Phoenix-esque vocals paired with an intricate, vibrant sonic backdrop in the style of Miike Snow. The title track– about halfway through the record– offers a dreamy interlude of acoustic guitar, dreamy lyrics, and meltingly beautiful harmonies. Croll’s delicate, echoey falsetto is backed by blossoming vocal chords that sound like they belong to Pet Sounds. The last track of the album, “Always Like This,” starts sounding like a singer-songwriter ballad; a syncopated drum comes in and gets your head nodding. After the first verse, a Mac Demarco- like guitar solo takes you by surprise and steals the show. “In Out” and “Wanna Know” are two notable tracks as well.
Dan Croll certainly fits in a particular group of artists– he doesn’t deviate much from the distinctively British electropop sound of Bastille, Cave Painting, London Grammar and the like. Within that genre, however, Dan Croll is doing some of the most interesting things with that sound– he’s using his LIPA education to write interesting beats, beautiful harmonies, and all around catchy songs. Dan hasn’t made his US debut yet, but it won’t be long until you’ll be hearing his name over here.