The Washington Post

Dan Croll album review: ‘Sweet Disarray’

Dan Croll will perform in the Washington, DC area. (Lasse Fløde)
“Sweet Disarray”

Kindred spirits: Peter, Bjorn and John, James Blake, Vampire Weekend

Show: With Panama Wedding on Monday at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-388-7625. $12 in advance, $14 at the door.

Some electronica is called IDM, short for “intelligent dance music.” The best songs on Dan Croll’s “Sweet Disarray” might be termed SSP, for “smart synth pop.” The British singer-songwriter emphasizes airy vocals and bouncy melodies over heavy beats, but his music isn’t just chirpy. Such standouts as “From Nowhere” are shrewdly arranged, with brief but cogent instrumental breaks.

The album is spotty, though, and not only because Croll sometimes shifts toward more traditional timbres, like the acoustic guitar that grounds the over-sweetened title track. A former student at the Paul McCartney-supported Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, Croll shares the former Beatle’s weakness for easy-listening pap. And Croll’s homages can sound like mere knockoffs, as when he does an all too accurate imitation of David Gray on “Always Like This.”

“Sweet Disarray” features a range of collaborators. Former Ponytail guitarist Dustin Wong co-wrote “In/Out,” an Afropop-tinged tune that’s one of album highlights. The Very Best’s Johan Karlberg assisted with “Compliment Your Soul,” which is equally catchy but too eager to please. “I just want to compliment your soul,” Croll trills with the unctuousness of a motivational speaker. At such moments, it seems that this McCartney pupil needs to brush up on his Lennon-ism.

Mark Jenkins



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans