New album by Loney Dear seems phony, unclear.

The awaited new album by the celebrated Swede doesn’t quite cut the meatballs.

If only the album were as pretty as the photo. Photo courtesy Loney Dear.

Ashley Goetz

If only the album were as pretty as the photo. Photo courtesy Loney Dear.

ARTIST: Loney Dear ALBUM: âÄúDear JohnâÄù LABEL: Sub Pop Coming off the substantial popularity of Loney DearâÄôs 2007 Sub Pop reissue âÄúLoney Noir ,âÄù Swedish multi-instrumentalist Emil SvanangenâÄôs career seemed ready to take off. Sadly, with the release of his newest album, âÄúDear John,âÄù the once self-produced artist seems to have lost much of what made him captivating to listen to. The leadoff track, âÄúAirport Surroundings ,âÄù succeeds as beat-driven, borderline morose dance pop and could even be interesting if it were the only song on the album that took this approach. Instead it becomes an unspectacular, foreshadowing device, a preview of the boring mistake that this record will continue to make: ruining interesting music with disastrously irritating vocals and laughable lyricism. Listeners will start to suspect this trend by the second track, âÄúEverything Turns to You ,âÄù which serves as a slightly more interesting version of the first. Same theme, same verging-on-Europop sound, but this one has a redeeming synthesizer melody and Dixie Cup-esque clapping moving it along. The problem this time? Yup, vocals. Not every moment on the album inspires instant regret. From the ominous whistling in âÄúI Was Only Going Out,âÄù to the sing-along chorus in âÄúSummers ,âÄù each track carries with it flashes of beauty âÄî and at times genius. While it may not lend itself to sustained listening, âÄúDear JohnâÄù could work as a soundtrack or score for a film. It retains an emotively poignant sound and grandiose nature which lends itself to movement and image. Yet the weight of what Svanangen sets out to do in many of the songs quickly becomes too heavy, and the epic story vying to exist within each track becomes more noticeably absent. Loney Dear seems at his best when his voice and words take a backseat to musicianship. His reluctance to acknowledge his own shortcomings is especially apparent on the abominable, borderline a cappella track âÄúHarm ,âÄù which perhaps serves as a culmination of everything that is wrong with the album. Yet the follow-up track, âÄúViolent ,âÄù serves as a vast improvement. An appealing and singsong anthem made interesting by a balance of dreamy melody, a catchy chorus and captivating instrumentalism. âÄúDear JohnâÄù is bearable at times, but for the most part shovels a heaping, ineffective and ongoing soliloquy over what could be interesting music. Unlike the innocent and earnest beauty present in âÄúLoney Noir,âÄù âÄúDear JohnâÄù is lyrically hackneyed, unimpressive, and almost juvenile. The beauty of craft is there âÄî itâÄôs just buried a bit too deep.