Album Review: Dan Croll – Emerging Adulthood

By Anna Cowan (@‪L0VESlCK)

Very rarely do musicians successfully combine a range of sounds, beats and melodies to create a truly diverse pop album, but yet somehow multi-instrumentalist Dan Croll manages to just pull this off in Emerging Adulthood, his sophomore album. His debut Sweet Disarray, which featured extremely successful singles such as From Nowhere, packed a punch with its booming electronica beats, but it is with Emerging Adulthood where Croll truly defines himself as a proud pop artist – and a talented one at that.

The album’s opener One Of Us is one of the it’s busiest, with its fiery combination of jingle-jangle beats and electric guitar somehow all fitting well together, despite something about the track seeming slightly off and not entirely together. In comparison, Bad Boy seems oddly stripped down but yet it is still filled to the brim. Its lyrics seem somewhat immature and almost pre-pubescent, such as “He watches James Dean on movie screens”, but it should be said that the album wasn’t created for the purpose of being profound, but to create a fun and light-hearted listening experience, which it certainly does.

Other album highlights include January, which has obvious Glass Animals vibes with its smooth, oozing vocals and jumpy melody. In addition, Swim uses the vocals of Rebecca Hawley of Stealing Sheep, which gorgeously compliment those of Croll. Some tracks such as Do You Have To? seem slightly filler, but this does not distract from the fullness of the earlier songs on the ten track album.

Overall, Dan Croll has sculpted a summery, eclectic record which, despite being infectiously poppy, is not boring or unimaginative. The colour and texture of the album is obvious which makes it a hugely enjoyable album to listen to if you’re looking for something for the poolside. I warn you now – you’ll be left wanting more.

7.5/10

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ALBUM REVIEW: CIGARETTES AFTER SEX – S/T

By Anna Cowan (@‪L0VESlCK)

Even by judging the band’s frank name “Cigarettes After Sex”, it’s clear to the listener that frontman Greg Gonzalez is a bit of an open book – and the intimacy and delicacy of their self-titled debut album confirms this. As though it were his diary, Gonzalez takes the listener through ebbing and flowing waves of melancholia and lust – themes which are recurrent throughout the band’s discography. 

Forming in 2012, the band rose to fame through online streaming services, as many do these days; but yet, their sound does not necessarily reflect this medium. Rather, it is soaked in nostalgia and is coloured black and white, creating an atmospheric listening experience as opposed to one of texture and diversity. Previous tracks from the band such as the notable “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” feature simple yet deeply emotive lyrics, thus setting a tone for Gonzalez’s writing: pure, uncomplicated romance. This style remains in their debut, and is what defines it as an album of hazy passion.

The album’s opening track ‘K’ is particularly notable for using this stunning simplicity. The echoing intro and Gonzalez’s whispering vocals illustrate a simplistic love story, straight out of a Hollywood film. The direct address to the woman in the chorus could, in theory, be anyone to the listener, making this a gorgeously overly-romantic ballad.  Much of the album follows this idea similarly; “Each Time You Fall In Love” features the same light drum beat and hazy melody, but with much lonelier lyrics, clearly depicting a more sombre theme, but yet one with an underlying romantic undertone.

Sweet” stands out as a track rich with emotion, perfectly fitting the album’s theme. Gonzalez finds the perfect medium between sexy and dreamy, with lyrics such as “You know that I’m obsessed with your body / But it’s the way you smile that does it for me” depicting a passionate affair. Similarly, “Opera House” paints the picture of a love-at-first-sight romance, another beautifully crafted track with a much more hushed tone.

However, despite these moments of gorgeous intimacy, some moments on the album are almost cringe-worthy and uncomfortable. On “Young & Dumb”, the final track of the album, Gonzalez sings “Well I know full well that you are / The patron saint of sucking cock”. Indeed, Gonzalez may think this is just a bit of tongue-n-cheek humour, but it sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the previously stunning lyricism featured on the album.

It would seem easy to some to compare Cigarettes After Sex to other ambient-indie acts such as Beach House and Mazzy Star, but this album nor do the band themselves entirely fit this comparison. Rather, it follows a very consistent structure whilst creating a different story for each track. Repetition is a slight issue for the band, however, but upon listening to the album as a whole the listener is caught in a trance of hazy dream-pop. Thus, as a whole this self-debut is a step into a lust-driven, incredibly romantic and poetic mind, and through showing the listener an almost anecdotal approach to this, a gorgeously rich and intense album is created.

7/10

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