Dan Mangan
Club Meds


3.0
good

Review

by Waior USER (114 Reviews)
January 8th, 2015 | 50 replies


Release Date: 01/06/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “There was a time that I was into cute, and I did cute pretty well. That’s not really who I am now.”

I haven’t met Dan Mangan before. My sister saw him in Vancouver once -- mind you, he was “high at an Aidan Knight concert”. What I do know: he interviews charmingly, and both sings and speaks unassumingly, like he’s pleased and/or flattered that you’d take the time to hear him. His musical journey from adorable, awkward acoustic songwriter to frontman of orchestras, brass, and film scores has been well-documented in Canada, and it’s hard not to admire his determination. He played with new toys and sounds on 2011’s Oh Fortune, and while this year’s Dan Mangan (+ Blacksmith) is far removed from his folky beginnings, Club Meds isn’t surprising. At least, not to people who heard Mangan remark to Exclaim last year, “I’m fairly content to shed the ‘singer/songwriter’ label; [...] I’m kind of over cute.”

No, there’s nothing cute here. There is - however - a whole lot of white noise, claustrophobic walls of sound, and atmosphere. Lyrics are unapologetically cynical; arrangements are dense and brash. It’s a beautiful blossoming for Mangan and his band, but as a cohesive whole, it’s undoubtedly front-loaded. Lead single ‘Vessel’, with Dave Grohl’s guest vocal in tow (”takes a village to raise a fool)”, sets the tone with its glitchy percussion, clever vocal arrangements and dynamic arrangement. The groove is strong, the riffs (yes, riffs) are memorable, and Oh Fortune’s delightful trumpets are back for a cameo. Opener Offred doesn’t disappoint either -- an onslaught of invasive one-liners, finger-picking, tempo changes and perhaps Mangan’s best chorus hook yet. Oh, and ‘Mouthpiece’" What a vicious ride: trading Mangan’s trademark concise and glib vocal style for a rapid-fire, range-glorying diatribe on being alive: “I understand that sometimes we almost dance with ***ery, but everybody’s pissing in the well of our suffering”. There’s something to be said of a man who can write well enough to distract you from words that don’t yet exist.

And well, from that point on, Club Meds’ later offerings never reach the heights its opening numbers do. The latter half of Club Meds feels like a drunk walk home at night: uneven, yet certainly enjoyable; not memorable, but certainly quite honest. ‘Kitsch’ and ‘Forgetery’ are among the best cuts of this litter, both toying with engaging full-band arrangements and inventive percussion. Unfortunately, the atmospheric, plodding numbers that book-end these two songs only serve to dilute the quality between them. Closer ‘New Skies’ is a gorgeous track, filled with delightful contrasts, but it works best when listened to exclusively. Don’t get me wrong: there isn’t a track on Club Meds that gets anything wrong, it’s just that they’re strung in an order and with a consistency that doesn’t allow anything to shine. See, Club Meds is home to Dan Mangan’s most impressive music yet, but it can’t be Dan Mangan’s best album quite yet.

Mangan is frank about the record’s meaning though, and I’d be hard-pressed to say he didn’t hit the nail on the head tonally. “Club Meds is about sedation; [..] it seems like everybody else is already at the party and that life is somehow easier or more fun under the fog”, says Mangan. And I’ll be damned if Club Meds isn’t sedative. It’s harrowing, and it’s a bit of a dive into murky water by its ending notes, but he did warn us. He’s over cute.

[Sedation] only makes people feel more alone, more dangerous, more desperate. It’s okay, though -- we’re all just particles.



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user ratings (25)
Chart.
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
January 8th 2015


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Vessel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dAWPsrraBk



Kitsch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSSCgHkiHuY



no album artwork for you guys

ScuroFantasma
Contributing Reviewer
January 8th 2015


10935 Comments


Excellent review mate, it was a great read, pos'd. Just one little thing I would change is using the same word in quick succession, you only did it twice but for me it detracts from the writing. Here are the two instances;

"vocal arrangements and dynamic arrangement"
"Don’t get me wrong: there isn’t a track on Club Meds that gets anything wrong" - you use wrong at the end of both pauses.


Digging: Evilfeast - Elegies of the Stellar Wind

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 8th 2015


25170 Comments


Waior sighting

Awesome to read a new review from you!

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1

MO
January 8th 2015


22049 Comments


holy shit waior nice

Waior
January 8th 2015


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i will never leave you guys



but i will certainly neglect you

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2015


11776 Comments


had no idea this was coming out nice

Digging: Violents and Monica Martin - Awake and Pretty Much Sober

Waior
January 8th 2015


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's got some good shit



vessels has a fantastic video too, well worth a watch

AliW1993
January 8th 2015


7511 Comments


This felt like a grower on first listen but as of right now I'm inclined to agree with you. I love Pretty Good Joke, though.

Great review obviously.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
January 8th 2015


6447 Comments


might wanna edit the release date to say 2015
review is.. cute. pos

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
January 8th 2015


4408 Comments


WAIOR LIVES

Aids
January 8th 2015


24410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

really good review, damn dude



I still have only heard 3 (I think?) songs from this, and while I'm pretty sure it won't match his last two, your take on it scares me a bit.



He is a really nice guy in person though, I've spoken with him a few times. Meeting him high at an Aiden Knight concert seems like the sort of occurrence that would be rare for him, if I'm reading it correctly, his reputation locally and whatnot.



Also, I was just introducing a friend to Nice, Nice, Very Nice and Oh Fortune and for the first time I was a little "ewww cheesy" with some of it (only some), so maybe the I will appreciate him moving away from the cuteness or whatever?



sorry for the long comment, but it's a Dan Mangan album

and it's a review by this guy

I have things to say

Waior
January 9th 2015


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Meeting him high at an Aiden Knight concert seems like the sort of occurrence that would be rare for him, if I'm reading it correctly, his reputation locally and whatnot.




We must also consider that my sister's desire to embellish and tell tall tales is not rare for her -- and were I to know I'd get a feature for the review, I wouldn't have banked on the thought. That's just how rumours start!



Sorry to scare anyone, this is well worth a listen and it's giving me a lot of love.

Hopelust
January 9th 2015


2762 Comments


Really? Only a 3?

I loved Oh, fortune... That's unfortunate. What if I just rearrange the songs to the order I prefer? COuld it be a 4 then? Or a 3.5?

ZombicidalMan
January 9th 2015


2476 Comments


I've been listening to Nice, Nice quite a lot lately, and even though I agree there are moments of "cute", I can't help but feel it's just a lot better constructed and more memorable than the couple songs I've heard from this

I'll give this time, and I've been a fan ever since he played at a local coffee shop in my city, but I'm kind of cautious towards this album

DurzoBlint
January 9th 2015


1335 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Made me sad hearing this... his worst album by far.

Waior
January 9th 2015


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I personally don't think any song on Nice is better than the songs on here or Oh Fortune. Road Regrets is strong, and Basket is powerful, and the rest are good songs -- but not memorable, to me at least, after he released Oh Fortune.

Aids
January 10th 2015


24410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Tina's Glorious Comeback and The Indie Queens Are Waiting are two that immediately jump to my mind to contradict that, but opinions



So Much For Everyone (from the first record) as well, still great



Oh Fortune is his best record though



Sold, You Silly Git, Fair Verona oh man what that album rules

Aids
January 10th 2015


24410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

we also seem to be discussing this like it's his next record and not a collaboration he did with Blacksmith



directly comparing it to the others is maybe pointless?

Waior
January 10th 2015


11630 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

blacksmith may as well have been billed for oh fortune though eh



he didn't do all that shit and arrangements on his own, he's not casey crescenzo

ZombicidalMan
January 10th 2015


2476 Comments


Good point, I only compared it because I've been immersed in his earlier material lately. Hard not to compare, especially when it's a lot different than I expected. Variety is always welcome, I just feel that the new ideas aren't working as well as they could, even ignoring his past work

Again, I haven't listened in full so this is based off a handful of songs



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