With the busyness of the Christmas and New Year periods now a distant memory it’s refreshing to start 2015 with an LP that is not only welcomely soothing but also cleverly written and produced. One can only hope that this is a sign of things to come over the next 12 months.
Vancouver based musician ‘Dan Mangan’ is quickly out of the blocks with what must be one of the first album releases of 2015, returning with his 4th album ‘Club Meds’. The artist has now also officially joined forces with his long-time bandmates to record under the moniker of ‘Dan Mangan + Blacksmith’.
From the offset you’re treated to the wonderfully distorted and chorus ladened ‘Offred’, followed by the instrumentally accomplished ‘Mouthpiece’, ‘A Doll’s House Pavlovia’ and ‘XVI’. The interweaving of strings, horns and strong vocals are fused together to create an atmospheric assemblage, with the latter two mentioned tracks certainly proving that less can quite often be more.
There a moments of genuine quality here that offer the perfect antidote for anyone yet to return to work after the festivities. This certainly shouldn’t be classed as ‘Easy Listening’ though as its clever production and experimentation certainly offer up something pleasingly different.
However, the LP does take somewhat of a dip towards its three quarters point. ‘War Spoils’, ‘Forgetery’ and ‘Pretty Good Joke’ are all instantly forgettable. It’s disappointing considering that its stable-mates are of such high quality. They lack any of the likability that went before, and even after repeated listens it’s hard to warm to them.
Thankfully the status quo is restored with the albums finale, and its highlight, ‘New Skies’. It’s difficult to find fault with a track that pulls together all of the aforementioned instrumentation, offering slight vocals but teasing throughout with wonderful moments of chaos.
‘Club Meds’ follows 2011’s ‘Oh Fortune’ and was once again produced by Colin Stewart. ‘Club Meds’ is released on the 13th January and a full European tour has been pencilled in for April 2015