Label: Arts & Crafts Release date: 22/11/2010 Website: Myspace Buy: Amazon I first came across Dan Mangan at The Great Escape in Brighton last year, playing a daytime show to a crowd full of mainly industry professionals. Part of a Canadian showcase, it was to the Vancouver native’s credit that his easy-going charm managed to get a singalong going throughout the tough crowd and he received a very warm reception from all. Since then, he has been going from strength to strength – touring both his home country, the States and Europe extensively, and also bagging a slot on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury this year. Nice, Nice, Very Nice is his second full-length album, following on from 2007’s Postcards & Daydreaming. You’ll understand what Dan Mangan is all about the moment you hear the opener ‘Road Regrets’, when some gentle acoustic strumming and unassuming vocals soon burst into life, much like Frank Turner at his most impassioned. A song that deals with escaping something in an honest and autobiographical tone, amongst mentions of coffee sweats, Dan claims: “We’ll drive until the gas is gone, we’ll walk until our feet are torn”. ‘Robots’ follows and is the one that garnered that singalong mentioned above, a funny and heart-warming tale of robots soundtracked by horns and strings, the closing refrain of “Robots need love too, they want to be loved by you” is where Dan’s amiable personality really shines through. ‘The Indie Queens Are Waiting’ is the most traditional folky sounding song so far, and includes dual boy-girl vocals. Quite poetic yet equally heartbreaking, he asks: “Are you watching, or just waiting to see your days are numbered?”. It is on tracks like this that you can understand where the Bon Iver comparisons come from, although I personally hear more of singer-songwriters with little quirks like Badly Drawn Boy or Jeffrey Lewis. And this is shown in the title of ‘You Silly Git’, where he proclaims “the joys of life are lost amongst the living”. Another tale of missing someone, it appears Dan has gone through some heartbreak, but he seamlessly words this whilst also cleverly referencing himself. Although sadly the music is a little flat this time around. Not flat at all is ‘Tina’s Glorious Comeback’, a pop song that talks about changes in life, Vancouver venues and includes the perpetual line: “I’m ambitious when giving up”. A slight lull in tone follows before ‘Basket’, a pre-nostalgic view of growing old (Dan is 27), will move you with lyrics such as: “My bones are worn, my hips are worn, I used to be so young, how did I get so old?”. But there is some hopefulness when the old man decides he can still make something of his life. You feel Dan genuinely takes on the mantle of each character in his songs. He has high ambitions, as shown by the different instruments on the album – nevertheless his acoustic guitar is always at the forefront. However, it is the trademark humour, understated melancholy and bleakly observant lyrics where he really excels. Sometimes, sadly, he doesn’t quite reach the high targets he’s set himself, but on the whole he manages it and his honesty and endeavour is commendable. Photobucket