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On his upcoming seventh album, Loney Dear’s Emil Svanängen has undergone a rebirth, a transition and had a profound artistic awakening in which he sees this as the beginning of something very new and very potent.
“It’s been a little bit like being out on the ocean swimming without anything to hold on to and now I’ve reached the beach,” he says, reflecting on his career to date. Whilst Svanängen may view this period as reaching new lands, that’s not to overlook his past successes. Beginning in the early 2000s, he made a name for himself by creating homemade CDrs and self-releasing albums, which by 2007 had pricked Sub Pop’s ears and they released Loney Noir. Two more albums – Dear John and Hall Music – followed on PolyVinyl, as did glowing reviews in The Guardian, BBC, Drowned in Sound, Pitchfork and earlier this year the Line of Best Fit went as far as calling him a “brilliant genius”.
Often unhelpfully described as indie pop (when in fact the music has always been more multifaceted and intricate than that genre suggests) this new album looks set to squash such binary comparisons. “There is a certain new blackness in the music,” Svanängen says. “I have learned to make my inner darkness more visible to people because I don’t want to seem lighter than I am.” Svanängen feels that whilst this transition is not yet over, he has clambered over the hump. “There have been terrible situations, I have found dark paths inside, I have learned about myself, I have discovered music, my artistry, my pros and cons. I must learn how to live without wanting to give up.”
Whilst inspired by the likes of the inimitable Nina Simone, the new, and darker, album is a creation that feels as difficult as it does futile to pigeonhole. However, for those who enjoy the stripped back intimacy and compositional brilliance of Bon Iver, complete with flashes of John Grant’s more electronic work and sprinkles of Brian Eno’s production work – plus hidden flutters of jazz rhythms and subtle nods to Elton John – then this is an album that has moments of all, alongside being very much its own singular creation.