Is Dan Mangan’s new album the first great Vancouver record of 2015?

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith released Club Meds this week.

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith released Club Meds this week.

Is Club Meds the first great album out of Vancouver for 2015?

It certainly looks that way, as singer/songwriter Dan Mangan’s third full-length garners acclaim both here and oversees. So what makes Club Meds different from the singer/songwriter’s previous releases?

Well, for one thing, Mangan’s handpicked backing band is now a fully-realized musical force called Blacksmith. The musicians, including Kenton Loewen (drums), Gordon Grdina (guitar), John Walsh (bass), JP Carter (trumpet), Jesse Zubot (violin) and Tyson Naylor (keys), are drawn from Vancouver’s experimental music community. Their chops and adventurous playing have undoubtedly helped Mangan’s songs into exciting new directions, while retaining the singer’s pop-craftsman-like knack for hooks.

Club Meds is Mangan’s fourth album, following his 2005 debut Postcards + Daydreaming, 2009’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice and 2011’s acclaimed, multi-JUNO-Award-winning Oh Fortune.

Dan Mangan at CBC Music Festival, Deer Lake Park, June 14 2014. Kirk Chantraine photo.

Dan Mangan at CBC Music Festival, Deer Lake Park, June 14 2014. Kirk Chantraine photo.

Among the accolades, the Toronto Star says Club Meds is “spectacularly well played, arranged and produced… the transfixing depth and detail of the mix tends to hook you even before these rather evasive songs get their hooks in you.” The Vancouver Sun notes that it’s “as if each tune is a pill being popped out of its blister pack.”

And it’s not just the local and Canadian press praising the album. The Guardian notes the record’s “bold musical backdrops” and “grand, emotional climax.” Consequence of Sound zeroes in on the record’s “looping synths, intricate drum patterns, and cascading guitars,” calling Club Meds “a fascinating and unpredictable new direction.” NPR says the record is “vivid, wildly ambitious” and ventures into “musical realms where straightforward hooks never go.” Q Magazine calls it “a bold move from a rapidly developing talent” and Uncut gives it 8/10, calling it “a widescreen shimmer.”

You can watch a video for the song “Vessel” here.

Mangan and his band of bearded bros are on tour in Canada for February and March, ending with two Vancouver shows March 13 and 14, both at the Vogue Theatre (918 Granville St.), before the tour moves to Europe. Get your tickets now at northerntickets.com; odds are, both Vogue shows will sell out.

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