Dan Croll is a 27 year old British singer-songwriter, graduate of Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and, on the evidence of his second album Emerging Adulthood destined to be in the music game for a long time to come.
‘One of us’ is driven by a four to the floor beat carried by thumping distorted bass and picked guitar. There is a punk sensibility at play but it is of the Buzzcocks rather than Black Flag variety. A playful solo adds a sprinkle of fun and the close vocal harmonies extolling the listener to “give in and be one of us” makes for a frantic but thrilling opening.
‘Bad Boy’ name-checks James Dean and while it echoes a 1950s vibe it does so in a modern sense. Yes the subject matter is falling in love but the confidence in the delivery carries the song. The production values are flawless as they add a pop sheen to the heavier elements. ’24’ spins around on a dizzying repetitive bass riff which plays over a moody tribal drum beat. A luscious guitar melody carries the narrative thrust of the lyrics: the dreaded quarter-life crisis. ‘January’ is a slower track and while it follows the template of what has gone before it never bores. Croll’s falsetto and use of a simple melody keeps you engaged. ‘Sometimes When I’m Lonely’ is soulful with a peppering of blues guitar. A judicious use of a time shift in the chorus and a gorgeous yet plaintive synth middle-eight makes this a standout track.
“Yes I’m sure I want to be here” is the opening line of ‘Swim’ and is a call and response between two lovers doubting their commitment to each other. Croll has riffs and melodies aplenty as this is another ear-worm on an album full of them. ‘Educate’ opens with a dark synth that could have been straight out of Stranger Things – it has an eighties outlook but through the lens of the modern. ‘Away From Today’ throws a curveball sounding like a Curtis Mayfield funk-infused/Latin soundtrack distilled through the best of British Indie. You realise (if you haven’t before) that Croll is a singular talent. ‘Do You Have To’ and ‘Tokyo’ finish off the album on a high note with his trademark use of melody and harmony. This is an album that deserves attention.