When I saw Dan Mangan perform in Maple Ridge in 2010, it was clear he was taking a step away from his folk-stomping tunes and steering towards a whole new musical sound. Five years later, the 31 year-old has two Juno Awards, a new born child, and a highly anticipated fourth album Club Meds.
The album’s sound as a whole reminds me of a score to a steampunk film set in 1800s London. It’s got that dark, rain on the window mood that’s unafraid to tell you the future is bleak. You know when someone suggests a good book, and they tell you it’s “a hard read”? Well this is that ‘book;’ a well thought-out, wordy, and tragic tale of a father in a world of social undertow – struggling to break free from being a statistic. Yes, Mangan is known to sugarcoat his political ideologies as indie rock songs, and yes, he sometimes spoon-feeds them to you – but Dan is singing about things that matter. But this record isn’t all about tragedy and slightly inkhorn-thespian black and white Boo-Hoo. It has a unique progression that starts off hopeful, proud, and noble – an intoxication of detoxing epiphanies amidst new found concepts of life. Listen to the album’s single, Vessel, and you’ll feel a breath of fresh air that is far from derivative.
Catch a cold with Club Meds, settle down for a wet January morning, and listen to Dan Mangan enlighten you with a batch of beautifully haunted, curious, and thoughtful songs.
— Calvin A. Jay