This Dan Croll is a clever chap. Here he basically one-man-bands it through a version of McCartney II if the lads from Vampire Weekend were overseeing/reimagining it. But as much as he’s the wilful experimentalist he also has super-sharp pop instincts. And a song like Can You Hear Me could play nice with the white-soul Mayer Hawthorne crowd as well as being the coolest-thing-for-right-now for any former Imagine Dragons fans or those still hanging on to that silly sinking ship of Arcade Fire or whatever…
What helps me in thoroughly liking this – rather than being snide and dismissive as is my usual wont with a lot of what feels like hackneyed cleverness – is that Croll has one eye, always, on his role as songwriter – it’s about the songs as much as it’s about the mucking about with them. That’s how I hear this as being a bit like McCartney II – or rather informed by similar processes: that being the idea that the songwriter can run riot in the home studio and fill his cup ‘til it runneth over with trickery and ideas but there still needs to be a song. Or several, actually. And just as Macca’s best solo album brims with beaut melodies both simple (One of These Days) and deceptively complex (Waterfalls) so too does Sweet Disarray. Its title track a sweet little finger-picked ode as pocket symphony, the skitter-shuffle of Maway, the pared back stomp of Must Be Leaving, the Graceland-styled strum and Dirty Projectors-aping wizardry of Always Like This. The sweet, simple closer, Home.