Coloring Outside the Lines
Dan Croll’s Sweet Disarray is sweet, but contains no sign of disarray. The British singer’s twelve-track debut album morphs simple pop tunes with subtle additions of electronic elements. Reverb, strings and catchy choruses fill the open spaces of music without overshadowing any one element of the songs.
The lead single “From Nowhere” is a simple pop tune until the chorus, where a slide from the guitar and an echoing chorus appear under Croll’s lyrics. “Cause every now and then I fall a bit behind / Every time I stare into your eyes.” The melodies haunt the listener. Other tracks toy with heavily altered instrument sounds — distorted guitars feature on “Thinkin Aboutchu,” while falsettos and deceptive background vocals come through on “Can You Hear Me,” showing the artist’s unique capacity for experimenting within his form.
As much as this song uses electronic alterations, Croll is able to capture the simple guitar and songwriting of an older generation folk singer. The title track, “Sweet Disarray,” begins with a quick-moving guitar melody that continues through the end of the track. Layered on top are Croll’s vocals with slight reverb. As soon as the chorus appears, the vocal harmonies expand and feature movement in all directions. The final track of the album, “Home,” is easily the most stripped down in terms of filters and reverb. A simple guitar, drum and no falsetto in the vocals.
It’s easy to see that Croll likes experimentation— he plays with the spatial sense of the listener and makes each track sound incredibly open with echoes and longer tones, but incorporates full harmonies into his choruses. All twelve tracks feature his writing credit and similar elements. Choruses have lush harmonies, electronic elements are used throughout, but the album maintains a folksy feel amidst a catalog of pop tunes. Sweet Disarray walks a narrow line, but balances perfectly and runs to a solid finish.