Release Date: Apr 1, 2014
Record label: Capitol
Dan Croll comes out of the gate on his debut album Sweet Disarray with a sound that suggests Paul McCartney with a taste for Afro-pop, rock, electronics and the occasional grand-sweeping, Paul Simon–style folk gesture. (It should come as no surprise that Macca has endorsed the singer/songwriter.) In all, Croll performs a remarkable juggling act that never crosses over into clever-for-clever’s-sake. A rare debut, as well crafted as it is likeable.
Arriving nearly two years after his punchy first single, "From Nowhere," Liverpool song man Dan Croll finally launches his colorful and immaculately produced debut album, Sweet Disarray. Riding the ample buzz of "From Nowhere" along with its three subsequent singles and bearing the stamp of approval from Liverpool's most famous son, Sir Paul himself, the bar was set awfully high for Croll's first full-length release. For the most part, he manages to keep up, rounding out his pre-album offerings with a group of vibrant and melodic songs that range from keyboard-laden, modern indie in the Vampire Weekend mold to sunny Afro-pop-inspired guitar tunes.
Sweet Disarray was unquestionably and deeply anticipated. On “From Nowhere”, Dan Croll’s debut single all the way back in 2012, the simple pop-infused sound he’d put together was beat-driven, and keys-punctuated. Croll’s vocal was something to behold too, it was straight forward, inoffensive but wildly endearing and was always given plenty of room to breathe.
After the ubiquitousness of ‘Compliment Your Soul’ last year, you’d be forgiven for assuming Liverpool-based singer-songwriter Dan Croll would offer up an album’s worth of soaring indie-pop; a sort of Bastille-lite-with-guitars, if you will. It probably doesn’t help that his name’s Dan, and he’s got big hair and glasses too. Debut long-player, ‘Sweet Disarray’, is quite the opposite: Croll and gang subtly veer from the Paul Simon-indebted afro-pop (‘Always Like This’) to the R&B-tinged (‘Can You Hear Me’) via the stunning M.Ward-esque warmth of the title track and closer ‘Home’.It’s gorgeously (self-)produced, too.
If the debut by Liverpool-based singer-songwriter Dan Croll doesn't raise his career a few notches, it won't be for want of the right connections. He's toured with Haim, had a song used on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack and been praised by InStyle magazine for his "distinct bespectacled hotness". To top it off, he's even made a pretty good album.
Hating Dan Croll isn't easy. The English troubadour's music is as inoffensive as it gets—like Grizzly Bear, without the grizzle or the bear. For some, such safety will instantly prove a turn-off. But safe is exactly what Dan Croll is, and you suspect he's not likely to change any time soon..
As an undergrad at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Dan Croll was not only lauded with myriad awards, but also chosen as one of just eight students to have a one-on-one with founder Paul McCartney. He’s no doubt a great student, one well-versed in technique, music theory, and his pop forebears: He cites not just the Beatles, but also Paul Simon, James Taylor, and De La Soul as heroes. Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise that his debut LP reads more like a college thesis designed to satiate a panel of professors than it does an original document.