Swedish twee-poppers Loney Dear know what it’s like to tough it out under the radar. After years of promoting his homegrown CD-R demos with little more than an unwavering grit to guide him, frontman Emil Svanängen finally broke through with 2007’s Loney, Noir when Seattle taste-makers Sub Pop gave him his shot. A bushy-tailed blush of sunshine, the album pushed against its dainty exterior with a level of song craft the former bedroom artist had never achieved before, especially with the track “I Am John” that easily stood out as one of the year’s peaks.
Dear John, Loney Dear’s latest release braves even deeper territory. Like all of Svanängen’s work, the album centers around his pinched falsetto and an unshakeable fusion of crisp, finger-swept acoustics and synth-pop tweaks. But what truly pushes Loney Dear beyond typical singer-songwriter boundaries is how brazenly Dear John delves into dusky orchestral embellishments and turns his penchant for subtle Casio blips into a full-on electronic charge. An artist intent on the value of repeat play, Svanängen may never break past a fickle low-profile stature, but his music only expands within its finite, alluring confines. In other words, Loney Dear are too sweet for rock and roll, and all the better for it.