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Album Review: Dan Mangan& Blacksmith’s Overdose On ‘Club Meds’

Mangan’s poignant lyrics and haunting baritone carries across all eleven songs on this unique album. Soulful, indie-rock melodies perfectly elevate the philosophical “Mouthpiece”, with lyrics: “I want to breathe in all the ashes of the books they tried to burn

4f2ff8cb-aa61-4f91-bba3-9301d5679d58-620x372“Club Meds” is the first LP release for critically acclaimed experimental artist Dan Mangan since 2011. The album was created entirely in collaboration with fellow Vancouver band Blacksmith, featuring the talents of Gordon Grdina, Kenton Loewen, John Walsh, JP Carter, Jesse Zubot, and Tyson Naylor. It is an ensemble offering.

Mangan’s poignant lyrics and haunting baritone carries across all eleven songs on this unique album. Soulful, indie-rock melodies perfectly elevate the philosophical “Mouthpiece”, with lyrics: “I want to breathe in all the ashes of the books they tried to burn. I want to feel the pages in my skin and understand the words. Castrate fiction.” According to Mangan, the song took months to write and is a tirade about success, failure, and pack mentality.

At other times surprisingly upbeat music and cheery drums accompany Mangan’s jazz-smooth voice. Mangan + Blacksmith are not afraid of the unconventional; they do not indulge in rhyming lyrics and catchy tunes. I feel like “Club Meds” is a journey – not one for those content to listen passively, lest they overdose. It engages with you, evoking an emotional response to the lyrics and music alike. Each song offers a surprise, whether the sickly brass section heralding the close of “Vessel”, or the cheerful piano prelude to “Club Meds”.

The album is not what you expect, but it may be what you need. “Club Meds” is out in Australia and New Zealand on Friday, January 16.

Review by Nicola Woolford.

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