Arriving nearly two years after his punchy first single, "From Nowhere," Liverpool song man Dan Croll finally launches his colorful and immaculately produced debut album, Sweet Disarray. Riding the ample buzz of "From Nowhere" along with its three subsequent singles and bearing the stamp of approval from Liverpool's most famous son, Sir Paul himself, the bar was set awfully high for Croll's first full-length release. For the most part, he manages to keep up, rounding out his pre-album offerings with a group of vibrant and melodic songs that range from keyboard-laden, modern indie in the Vampire Weekend mold to sunny Afro-pop-inspired guitar tunes. From a songwriting standpoint, it's a well-rounded collection of ably written and generally catchy pop songs with occasional nods to classic troubadours like that other famous Paul (Simon). At his most stripped-down, songs like the lovely closer "Home" and the enchanting title cut show a young singer/songwriter well schooled in the classics and finding a place to plant his own two feet. On the production end, songs like "In/Out," "Wanna Know," and "Thinkin Aboutchu" display an aesthetic of modern inventiveness blending together chimey riffs, warm synths, programmed beats, and more organic elements into compact, impressive arrangements that polish merely decent material into something a bit more sterling. Croll is no retro-minded classicist and he uses all the current tools at his disposal to make a thoroughly modern pop record while still keeping a close enough eye on his role as a songwriter. It's a tough trick to pull off, with many artists leaning too hard to one side or the other of the spectrum, but Sweet Disarray proves Croll has both a forward-looking experimentalism and pretty solid songwriting chops to boot. In spite of the extremely high expectations, he has managed a pretty neat debut that will please fans who have been waiting since his early singles.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger