As an avid lover of the Pacific Northwest, I always shed a tear of joy onto my rain-soaked cheek whenever I see another Vancouver artist rising to fame. Singer-songwriter Dan Mangan’s breakout album Nice, Nice, Very Nice is a welcomed variety that includes everything from lead-footed anthems (“Road Regrets”) to solemn ballads (“Pine for Cedars”) and even offers the opportunity to get your hambone on (“Sold”). And while you can hear any of one of a thousand bearded men with acoustic guitars crooning at Starbucks (or Tim Hortons, I assume?), Mangan is sure to jolt you out of your ironic caffeinated daze as he strings together words with a John Prine-like unassuming creative charm.
Despite all of the heart-on-his-sleeve moments throughout the album, Mangan isn’t afraid to draw on his Beatles influences (think “Rocky Raccoon” rather than “Yer Blues”) and give us a goofy sing-along about robots complete with a beer hall brass section. But regardless of the style or instrumentation he employs to tell his stories, his lyrics are consistently inspired. On “You Silly Git,” Mangan suggests to “try to break up with your pride and flirt with satisfied.” And hold off until Friday afternoon before you listen to “Road Regrets” lest you fall under the spell of convincing lines such as, “So find Dodge and then get out of it,” and “the cost is more than what you get paid…but do it anyway.” I’m writing this from a bookstore, but if air drums were socially acceptable…
So if I haven’t overhyped this to the point of driving you away, lower your expectations and give this album a few spins. Dan Mangan has been compared to the likes of Bon Iver and even Radiohead, but I don’t see that as much as Mumford and Sons or even The Avett Brothers. Regardless of whose coattails he’s riding, Mangan will soon be inspiring the next generation of troubadours and thus drawing comparisons accordingly.
(Arts&Crafts, 460 Richmond St. W #402, Toronto, ON M5V 1Y1 Canada)