Following a string of intriguing and gratefully received singles since late 2012, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dan Croll has more than marked himself out as “one to watch”. After debut single ‘From Nowhere’ made every list of “what’s trendy” on every “cool” radio station in “happening” town, quite understandably people were chomping at the bit for an album. Sweet Disarray gives us what we wanted; retaining the summery vibe we got a taste of in ‘From Nowhere’ and ‘Compliment Your soul’, it’s given us punchy African percussion, harmonies, backing vocals and even some cheeky funk-inspired bass lines.
Sweet Disarray begins with familiar friend ‘From Nowhere’ which is the kind of song that suits the outdoors – hair being whipped about hazardously by the wind, sun to the face, that sort of thing. In fact this whole album just sounds how summer feels. ‘Thinking Aboutchu’ could easily play soundtrack to a summer’s evening spent driving round in a roof-down car, your arm resting on the door and everything buzzing. Except we’re not in California, we’re in Brixton, as Sweet Disarray is timidly experimental at heart, but its understated nature retains that “British” feel.
‘Can You Hear Me’ is one of the most exciting songs on the album. Croll embraces a syncopated funk inspired bass line, catchy piano hook and towards the end of the track, some experimental drum work. The title track showcases Croll’s vocal range and real talent for poetic lyricism. The harmonies are expansive and swelling– you can’t help but become swept up within the world that Croll so beautifully crafts. ‘Must Be Leaving’ has essence of Kings of Convenience about it, except they’re not in Norway; they’re on Safari in Kenya, as Croll’s resonant higher register has echoes of the rounded sound created by Gospel Choirs. Croll notes that ‘Always Like This’ was “heavily influenced by Paul Simon”. It’s no ‘Me and Julio…’ but employs an interesting drop A Major tuning for his guitar. The addition of a djembe drum echoes the percussive nature of Croll’s voice during the sections of repetition, and gives a ridiculously jolly African feel.
This is a solid debut album that reeks of promising things to come. My only qualm is that while I enjoyed the African inspired harmonies and funky bass lines, I find myself identifying these features in the majority of the album. Dare I say that Sweet Disarray could possibly be described as a little samey? The album is a success and will provide near perfect accompaniment to summer parties, but what it probably isn’t, is groundbreaking. Croll is dipping his toe into a very exciting Jacuzzi bath of innovative and progressive music; I can’t help but wish he had just jumped in.By Katie Barclay