There are multiple moments on Dan Croll’s extraordinary second album, Emerging Adulthood, which may cause you to question his sanity. Press play on the riotous “One Of Us” and prepare for the album’s purest pop moment. Soak up the dreamy “January Comes Too Soon” and sense the spirit of Earth, Wind & Fire summoned alongside vintage soul. Delve as deep as you dare into the Tijuana-tinged “Away From Today” and discover what could be the sound of a shotgun blast and crystal raindrops nestled next to a nod to the Pearl & Dean theme.
Elsewhere, Emerging Adulthood sends languid lounge-jazz in to outer space, sets a metronome at the centre of a song, blends brass and breakbeats, finds common ground between the Beach Boys and ELO and Paul Simon and Pink Floyd and tells the tale of a phantom heart attack. Throughout, it enchants and intrigues in equal measure. When it ends, you’ll wonder what the hell’s just happened while still humming along in your head. “I’m not sure what it says about the state of my mind, but maybe there are bits that are borderline psychotic,” laughs the 26-year-old multi-instrumentalist. “I’ve never wanted to stick to one genre. It’s either because I’m easily distracted or because my mum brought me up on brass bands, Brian Wilson, jazz and Michael Jackson. I can’t see the fun in sticking to one sound.”
Since the release in early 2014 of his critically-lauded debut album, Sweet Disarray, Dan has purposely proved impossible to pin down. A sonic explorer who approaches every song as a new adventure and uses instruments as inspiration and samples as signposts, he doesn’t so much sidestep genres as conquer several at the same time. The range of bands who have sought out Dan as a support act — from Imagine Dragons, Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club to Haim, London Grammar and Chvrches — attests to the ambitious scope his songs. Ditto the breadth of brands that synched every song on his debut album, among them Grand Theft Auto, FIFA, Citroen, Clairol, Burberry, Paul Smith and Apple’s iPhone 6, which launched across the world with his hit “From Nowhere.”
From the beginning, The Dig have been a classic band’s band, and a true collaboration: three longtime friends, three songwriters, two singers in a true dual frontman setup, all individuals but all woven more and more tightly together as they have evolved. In a world that rewards drama, reckless moves and often-overwrought narrative twists, The Dig have bucked that trend by focusing on, well, the work: writing song after song to cast off more than they keep, and keep only the best. The Dig do a lot, and they do it the right way — building brick by brick, writing constantly, touring steadily, and most crucially, pushing themselves creatively to make better and better records. Which brings us, of course, to Bloodshot Tokyo, a record rich with ambition and a bright, irresistible ease.