“Sweet Disarray,” Dan Croll’s debut album released on March 10, is precisely what the title suggests. The lyrics and melodies offer the perfect music for a sunny spring, but the album itself is not quite organized enough musically to be truly impressive. You might remember his alt-pop hit, “From Nowhere,” which hit the charts in Nov. with an interesting combination of alternative vocal and electronic party instrumentals.
“Sweet Disarray” follows in the hit’s footsteps with a similar merging of the indie and electronic genres. The combination is unlikely but surprisingly successful in most of the tracks. However, at certain points in the album I couldn’t help but wonder if Croll would be a better collaborator than stand-alone artist.
The album starts off strong with “From Nowhere,” Croll’s Sept. 2012 single release. The tracks continue to experiment with electronic undertones and somewhat simplistic lyrics from Croll that complement songs like “Wanna Know,” “In / Out,” “Compliment Your Soul,” “Can You Hear Me,” and “Always Like This.” “Wanna Know” is a sweet and laid back love long that demonstrates Croll’s knack for electronic melody. “Compliment Your Soul” sounds like something you would hear at the World Cup, which is fitting as it was selected as a track on FIFA 14, a football video game. However, songs like “Only Ghost,” “Maway” and “Home” fall flat without a complex melody or interesting lyrics to support them. I felt as though Croll was attempting to keep the lyrics simplistic to help the melody shine. For artists like Alt-J, this technique is extremely successful. However, while “Only Ghost” comes close to emanating this style, Croll’s melodies are not quite complex or interesting enough to accomplish it.
Croll was awarded a one-on-one with Sir Paul McCartney, the founder of LIPA, Croll’s alma mater, and after a few listens to the album you can see his influence on Croll’s first attempt. It is clear that the young artist is attempting to produce songs with simplistic lyrics and killer melody’s, similar to McCartney’s style. However, Croll lacks the McCartney knack for strikingly catchy melodies, or simply has yet to master the art. The track “Sweet Disarray” suggests that Croll has all the potential to produce excellent and substantial songs. I was surprised to find this mostly acoustic track hidden in the middle of the album. The lyrics, vocal harmonization and melody work perfectly together to produce and musically mature track.
Dan Croll has a lot of potential. For a debut album, “Sweet Disarray” is perfectly enjoyable. The tracks are mostly catchy, and I certainly enjoyed listening to it. However, it is clear that Croll needs to grow as an artist melodically and lyrically before he will be able to produce songs of the caliber that I believe he is capable of. If he focuses on developing more diversity in his music, the buddings of which can be seen in tracks like “Can You Hear Me,” “Always Like This” and “Sweet Disarray,” he is likely to become an extremely popular artist.