Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – “Club Meds” – Across The Ocean

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – “Club Meds”

From the creative hotbed that is beautiful Vancouver comes Club Meds, a densely layered and difficult to pigeonhole album.


The fourth full length release for Dan Mangan, it incorporates a myriad of occasionally hard to identify sounds that when applied to quality songwriting, make for a unique listening experience. It may well loosely fall under the canopy of folk- tronica, should one be pushed to categorise.

Strapping on headphones is recommended to obtain optimum listening pleasure here as a plethora of instruments seep in and out of the tracks. Whilst the writing is strong it is the production that really brings this collection of soundscapes to life. Opener ‘Offred‘ is a slow burning six minute epic, ebbing and flowing hypnotically. Mangan’s enquiry of “What is it at all?” is an apt one that will likely align with the listener’s thoughts.

Vessel‘ is as rollicking as the record gets with jarring piano and lustier vocals. It is left of centre pop music, more for absorption than easy consumption.

After the upbeat acoustic jangle of ‘Mouthpiece‘ we move into a section of trance inducing ambience. The oddly titled ‘A Doll’s House/Pavlova‘ features some dexterous finger picking and the subtle insertion of violin, an instrument that is utilised to great effect throughout the album. ‘XVI‘ (“If you hate the man, the man hates you”) and ‘War Spoils’ are back to back examples of lugubrious minimalism, stripping back from the heavy layering utilised elsewhere.

Snapping us out of our hypnosis, ‘Forgetery‘ perks up with the the drums making a comeback over melodic bass. This is the last moment of up tempo action as the last three tracks (title track included) head back down the path of ambience and bring things to a gentle conclusion.

As previously mentioned Club Meds is an awkward one to pin down and requires several run throughs to fully spin it’s web around you. At times a challenging listen, it is a deep record that warrants some additional probing. Once again Canada has provided us with an ideal accompaniment for a wintry landscape.

Gavin Stocker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Outside of Across The Ocean Gavin Stocker writes, records and performs music under the moniker of P Truck.

He can also be found clinging to his youth on a skateboard or wandering aimlessly through the bush.
Gavin Stocker