Dan Mangan
Nice, Nice, Very Nice


5.0
classic

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
February 6th, 2010 | 133 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Exactly that.

“I can hear the eyebrows raise when I start singing”, whispers British Columbian singer-songwriter Dan Mangan. He knows exactly why, too, as he continues: “Because the songs I sing are all about myself.” Certainly, Mangan is the exact kind of singer-songwriter that can lure your intrigue simply with how honest and open his words can be. On his second record, Nice, Nice, Very Nice, he will keep that initial interest and expand it across an entire record of confessions, musings and tales directly from the heart. There’s a very good chance that you’ll let him, too. His charm and his brilliantly effective way with words stands nowhere near the middle of the road – he’s too busy trying to hitchhike to a better place from the ditch.

Nice, Nice, Very Nice begins with the raw, emotive “Road Regrets”. Based around a simple chord progression, Mangan builds the song up from the ground into a full-speed-ahead affair that displays both his versatile and powerful voice and his ear for strong arrangements – two of the major factors that make Nice such an enjoyable record to begin with. Both, in turn, become more and more apparent throughout listening to the album. Of the former, the countrified “Sold” in particular highlights some vintage harmonies, “The Indie Queens Are Waiting” does cutesy boy-girl vocals and single “Robots” brings the choir together for a strangely gospel-like finale. As for the latter, “You Silly Git” works wonders with its quaint but stirring strings, while “Tina’s Glorious Comeback” (interestingly, about his love/hate relationship with Vancouver) bops along with double-hit percussion and a very tidy electric guitar solo.

It’s perhaps the most likable thing about Nice, Nice, Very Nice in the fact that nothing feels out of place or ill-constructed. It all comes together in a beautiful amalgamation of Mangan’s ideas that pave a clear path for perhaps what is the finest trait of his work: his wonderful lyrics. Each song deals with a different aspect of Mangan’s view of the world, his endless imagination and his interactions with the people and places around him. “You Silly Git” sees him write about homesickness (“She gives me quarters for the phone/And every time I feel alone, I go broke”) and the wisdom of his mother (“She says the point of this is not to date the future/So just focus on the task at hand”). “Fair Verona”, another album highlight, is his take on some of the key underlying themes of Romeo & Juliet: “Up the stairs, there’s a pair/who like to be made sure/That they were everything they are/For they are sadly mistaken”. Despite his lyrical claims of “You can read me like a book”, there’s a lot going on with Mangan’s words that will often require intricate, repeated listens.

Perhaps the greatest instance of where it all works perfectly on the record is the song “Basket”. Excluding the glorious swell of strings near the song’s conclusion, this is all Mangan: his simple yet masterful guitar picking, his fragile croon reaching the heights of its emotions and the lyrics, which deal with growing old and the acceptance of fate, at their sharpest and most openly touching.

So I'll brace myself against the wall and hope to God that I don't fall
My bones are worn, my hip won't hold
I used to be so young, how did I get so old?
Won't you take my cane and hold my hand
You're holding onto all I have
Just a basket full of memories
And I am losing more each day it seems
But if I can make it to the street
I'll steal a car, or a bike
Whatever there is to steal
And it might get cold
I just don't care
I'm going 'til I'm getting there


Beautiful in its execution, “Basket” is Mangan’s finest work and easily the one song on here that is an essential listen.

Musically, we find ourselves in a time where the amount of excessive layering on next to every major mainstream release arguably detracts further from the music itself than ever before. It is for this very reason that Nice, Nice, Very Nice is such a relief and a surprise – it’s just a man, his music and his life in his own words. Heart-warming, powerful and a consistently engaging, enjoyable record, Nice, Nice, Very Nice is nothing short of exceptional.



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user ratings (76)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2010


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

let me guess; AUSTRALIAN?!?!

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Kiran
Emeritus
February 6th 2010


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“I can hear the eyebrows raise when I start singing”, whispers British Columbian singer-songwriter Dan Mangan.


Digging: Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2010


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is what alcohol does to me

Kiran
Emeritus
February 6th 2010


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hahaha

the queen of england is on the cover, you must've known this was canadian

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2010


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

isn't aiustralia a prison colony of england

Piglet
February 6th 2010


4663 Comments


Used to be... well... sorta

AtavanHalen
February 6th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Drunk Rudy can gtfo as far as I'm concerned

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2010


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

davide i love you even if you're a convict

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2010


17225 Comments


this sounds like it's worth my while

Rationalist
February 6th 2010


880 Comments


a wee bit wary of purchasing this

PuddlesPuddles
February 6th 2010


4787 Comments


I'm enjoying this a little

Douglas
February 6th 2010


9174 Comments


is this my thang?

AtavanHalen
February 6th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Hey, kids, I almost forgot: videos!

Treat yourselves to these -

The Indie Queens are Waiting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5RIHff3oas

Robots: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRcXULN6mp4

Basket (MUST WATCH): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t77tzkmQ-Mc

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 9th 2010


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is pretty fucking good davis, good call with this. the singer reminds me of someone i can't exactly place at the moment, almost john darnielle-ish

AtavanHalen
February 9th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks bro, glad you like it

Douglas
February 10th 2010


9174 Comments


spoz ill check this out then.

AtavanHalen
February 10th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yes sir

BigTuna
April 15th 2010


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This sounds awesome. Basket was very very good.

AtavanHalen
April 18th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Really glad you like this, dude.

BigTuna
April 18th 2010


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's fantastic. His voice is spectacular and the songwriting is impeccable. Seriously, Basket is fast becoming one of my favorite songs ever.



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