Dan Croll, gig review: 'Exotic is not always best'

Dingwalls, London

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The Independent Culture

“Becky, I think your boyfriend has something to ask you,” Dan Croll says, making the most important announcement yet in three London headline sets. That blokes are proposing to their girlfriends so early in his career is down partly to the high hopes on this bespectacled artist's shoulders.

While hardcore fans singing along hint at blog heat, Paul McCartney gave him the thumbs-up at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and after a couple of low-key singles Universal has picked him up for next spring's debut album. Being unashamedly romantic also helps in encouraging gig-inspired engagements. Croll is at his best when his vocals soar over the four-piece band's tricksy Afrobeat rhythms and highlife backing on stand-out number 'Compliment Your Soul'.

Croll's own dancing guitar lines add a hint of Vampire Weekend exoticism to the Grizzly Bear harmonies, though smooth-running melodies ensure such moments remain as instantly digestible as Graceland-era Paul Simon. Heart-on-sleeve lyrics allow for an instant rapport, though on more delicate moments his vocals dissolve in a stodgy mix and you miss the Brooklynites' mystique. Yet the closing 'Home' with its comparison between trendy bare floors and parents' carpets, plus a rattling finale, reminds us exotic is not always best.