Dan Mangan + Blacksmith
Arts & Crafts Records
After more than two years of rewriting themselves and crafting a new moniker, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith is back with a new style in Club Meds. This album is full of despondency and melancholic sentiments, making it an ideal playlist for a real gloom-and-doom winter. From “Offred” to “New Skies,” the album examines humanity’s negative emotions such as worry, doubt, isolation and hopelessness.
Mangan expresses his anguish differently from his usual melancholy style. In Club Meds, many of his songs have a quick tempo, with some even using major keys despite the pensive playlist. Yet, he keeps his songs despondent by scattering minor chords throughout the album, particularly in “War Spoils.” Also, by using cut time in songs like “A Doll’s House/Pavlovia,” he gives the illusion of having a speedy song when the tempo is slower. His desperation becomes clear especially with his extensive use of reverberation in “Kitsch.” In songs like this, he shows his downcast persona best.
Dan Mangan + Blacksmith successfully maintains their gloomy approach to music throughout Club Meds. Yet, while each song is produced well, the album itself doesn’t have much direction. In the place of a streamlined album, there seems to be only a pit of despair 45 minutes and 35 seconds long. Each song doesn’t fail to disappoint in Mangan’s traditional disconsolate style, but the production as a whole needs more work.