There’s something in a name. “Club Meds” is the first Dan Mangan record released under the Dan Mangan + Blacksmith moniker and it’s amazing how much this alters our perception of the music presented in this latest release. The chosen name is an acknowledgement of the influence of his band in his music and their continued growth into the creative process of making an album.
This really does make a big difference in how we read the music. Regardless of it’s similarities and callbacks to past Mangan releases, we will inevitably read it like a new chapter because after all, it’s under a new name. There are some throwbacks though. Recently featured single Mouthpiece has some definite comparisons with “Oh Fortunes'” track “Post-War Blues.” Mangan though has got darker and these similarities are enriched with a growing minor discord that sends an excellent shiver up the record. Managan’s distinctive voice begins to enact a violence and aggression in certain tracks. It’s a great statement of further musical development because as great as “Nice Nice Very Nice” was you can’t keep banging the same drum forever. A lot of music fans can’t get behind this because they will always pine after the band that stole their interest originally. This is understandable but a ridiculous complaint. Tracks like “Vessel” below seem to make the most of his new found musical freedom and this should be celebrated, we need our artists to develop to avoid stagnation.
I’d definitely recommend this album. Darker and experimental whilst still retaining Mangan’s excellent songwriting prowess. It’s an excellent layered album and a short excerpt in an MP3 blog won’t do it justice, just buy it and see for yourself.