2013’s Sweet Disarray propelled Liverpool’s Dan Croll into indie bliss stardom. Emerging Adulthood was a chance for Croll to challenge himself, doing all the writing on the album and playing every instrument. The album is fine tuned down to the last note, every song sounding not just made but crafted. Releasing a single each year since 2015 (‘One Of Us’ in 2015, ‘Swim’ in 2016 and ‘Bad Boy’ in 2017) finally brought us to the blissful indie pop extravaganza Emerging Adulthood.
The album opens with what is now an old favourite ‘One of Us’. It immediately steps away from the dreaminess of Sweet Disarray, trading it off for a far sharper sound with irregular drumbeats and initially striking sounds. By the chorus Croll’s layered vocals are feeling sickly sweet on top of far more experimental guitar than we’ve seen before. The bridge whips up an array of instruments into a frenzy of perfect chaos.
Next comes ‘Bad Boy’ which undeniably is a stand out track. ‘Bad Boy’ is about that phase everyone experiences where girls want a bad boy and boys want to be a bad boy and ultimately it all ends in tears through a lack of confidence, as Dan puts it. Nevertheless the song is a demonstration of Dan Croll’s indie sensibilities blended with glimmering pop synths. ‘24’ is not to be ignored amongst the more upbeat tracks. The sound is more than created but rather curated, building and breaking down seamlessly between lines of lyrics, about the morose topic of worrying about wasting years and getting old. The jarring layers of guitar over the bridge compliment the lyrics ‘don’t let it be a heart attack’.
Now ‘January’ is slick, it’s polished down to the ground with no room for the obscure sound effects used on the likes of ‘One Of Us’. The verse feels understated then the synths kick into the chorus and the song is lifted immediately into this feel good number. ‘Swim’ feels a bit retro and a bit mellow, even in the swirling harmonious vocals of the chorus the track is still surprisingly light when tackling subject matter like infidelity and intimacy in relationships.
‘Do You Have To?’ is perhaps my favourite of the songs from Emerging Adulthood. The synergy between all the elements is just incredible. The song takes cues from Grizzly Bear and Passion Pit in terms of how it effortless merges indie instrumentals with pop harmonies and even a little bit of brass in the depth of it. ‘Tokyo’ seems quite an apt song to close Emerging Adulthood on, it’s euphoric and incredibly satisfying in the same way ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ was, it begs to be sang along to in catharsis. ‘Tokyo’ is hopeful and bright, just as the album is overall.
Give Emerging Adulthood a listen here.