For a man whose musical output has always been particularly multilayered, Emil Svanängen, the man behind Loney Dear, has never been one to shove anything down our throats. His project’s forlorn pop songs have been prefixed by ‘chamber’ just as validly as ‘bedroom’, often in the same breath, and it’s the former that’s seems particularly relevant in pinning down this, the latest Loney Dear release on Something In Constuction. But whilst Hall Music sees Svanängen refining his production and creating a record that’s perhaps more expansive than those preceding it, it’s by no means any more immediate.

From opener ‘Name’, it’s instantly apparent that Hall Music conforms to this occasionally frustrating paradox. Ever seen the final episode of Futurama’s fourth season? ‘Name’ sounds like the closing seconds of that episode, in which Fry plays a simple but touching ode to the ever-dismissive Leela, drawn out over two and a half minutes. As is a considerable portion of Hall Music, ‘Name’ is entirely beatless, filled out instead with lush drones and vocal manipulation, and like Fry’s piece, it’s both endearing and a little clumsy, "I want your name next to mine" repeated over and over. There’s certainly none of the arresting immediacy of ‘Airport Surroundings’, and over its course, Hall Music treads its opener’s thin line between the tender and the plain dreary. Where it strays into the latter, as on the meandering ‘Oh Maria’, it can be tempting to stop paying attention altogether.

That said, Hall Music certainly offers plenty of engaging material. It’s obvious throughout the record’s eleven cuts that Svanängen has moved firmly out of homespun territory and is going for those orchestral big leagues, and to his credit, Hall Music certainly achieves widescreen status without sacrificing too much intimacy. ‘My Heart’, wisely placed directly after ‘Name’, is carried on an undulating bassline that swings the song around until it sounds something like Jaga Jazzist, with its locked groove and echoing chimes. On the other side of that coin, album highlight ‘Calm Down’ is probably the most obvious and affecting exposure of Svanängen’s sunken heart, coming across like one fatalistic, paranoid, obsessive lover reassuring the other. Very politely, mind. Apart from its meticulous arrangement, Hall Music also makes up for its largely sedentary pace by varying its moods, as in ‘Largo’, which is notable for bypassing the rest of the album’s sentimental ambience and opting for a vaguely threatening, creepy shuffle that’s all the more effective for its surroundings.

‘What Have I Become’ rounds out an album of peculiar dualities with a set of its own. Rather than Svanängen, the song is sung by Loney co-conspirator Malin Ståhlberg, rerouting the assumed male viewpoint of the record’s romantic longing with the lines "I really don’t care no more/things never go the way they should/it’s not sad but it’s not ok" over what is probably Hall Music’s most straightforward, propulsive pop song. Whether placing it at the end of a release so unanchored by percussion that it’s near weightless at times increases its effect, or whether it would have been put to better use elsewhere, is difficult to say. Hall Music is a fine record populated by skillfully assembled, and occasionally beautiful songs, if a little too restrained in places to fully realise its potential.