Swedish natives Loney Dear play with mood and atmosphere to create a beautiful and sporadic batch of songs. Hall Music teeters the line of joy and sorrow, from gurgulling synthesisers that reflect hope, to the desperation in Emil Svanangen’s thin falsetto.
In a way, the record tries to find that perfect balance between the two emotions, but never completely goes one way or the other. It’s the “perfect position just in between joy and darkness” says Svanangen, who, before writing the record, spent months playing with orchestras throughout Sweden. It’s obvious these guys are not shy about experimenting with different instruments — from vibraphones and church bells, to violins and a horn section, nothing is off limits. It seems any instrument on the planet could pop in and out of a track, which makes for an exciting listen.
There’s not a weak track, but there are a few that truly standout. The opener “Name,” captures the essence of the album in just a two-and-a-half-minute span. “I want your name next to mine, I saw your name over the fields, I heard your name over the fields” is the only lyric. A lovely run of thoughts overlayed with a few synthesisers and an organ, and that’s all there is. It’s nothing earthshattering, but a thoughtprovoking song in it’s sheer absence of words. “Loney Blues” and “D-Major” are the most beautiful tracks on the album. Between the two, Sigur Ros comes to mind, with it’s rich melodies and inevitable effect of haunting my ears.
There’s a pulling nature to the lyrics that adds another fascinating layer. They draw you in by a few chosen words. A sense of intense yearning, little closure (a dissonant guitar string always filling the cracks), there’s no doubt Loney Dear intended to create such a sparse yet brooding batch of songs.
If you’re into very lush laid-back pop, buy the whole album, it’s well worth it. Hall Music is one of the most beautiful records of the year.
(Polyvinyl Records, 206 N. Randolph St. , Suite M100, Champaign, IL 61820)