Dan Mangan, Vancouver’s 31 year old indie folk singer has just released his fourth album but first coincided with the band Blacksmith’s showing the musical diversity of this singer. Club Meds, released in the UK on 11th January 2015 has shown the juxtaposition of your typical Mangan indie-folk tones and the unexpected sounds of electro-pop.
The album kicks off with Offred, a song that shows the gravelly tones of Mangan, however it feels like a wannabe rock song with all of the character sucked out of it. It’s monotonal and the synthesised electronic sounds mixed with the indie feel of the song just doesn’t provide the combination expected and instead creates a sense of unease.
Mouthpiece feels like we’re returning to the old Dan Mangan and giving hope for the rest of the album. The mix of instruments and the lyrical genius makes this up-tempo song feel more comfortable. The electronic sounds have gone bringing an ambience and atmospheric feel to the song through Mangan’s vocal ability alone.
The album feels like an experiment between the harmonisation and the synthesised sounds invoking an element of hit or miss. By doing this some songs feels cluttered, as if there is too much going on at once making it a jarring experience. (A Doll’s House/Pavlovia and War Spoils.) However in some other songs this offers the haunting atmosphere needed, therefore allowing it to work and creating a trance like experience. (Mouthpiece and Forgetery.)
Most of this album looks like it is apprehensively attempting to create a new genre and letting go of the unique and original sounds that Dan Mangan has shown us in the past. If this album wasn’t quite so cluttered than it would be tragically beautiful. Overall this album doesn’t stand up to the high caliber of Mangan’s previous work. Hopefully we may see some improvement for his next.