Released January 13, 2015
By Katye Chase
Clubs Meds is the fourth release by Dan Mangan + Blacksmith; however, it’s the first released under this title. Though the overall tempo of the album is serene and mellow, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith unite and play distinct roles that each display a dominant feature on their own accord. When it comes to creating a daring yet smooth and cohesive melody, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith nail it with Club Meds.
Vessel allows us to grasp what Mangan’s vocals have to offer while his voice is introduced and accompanied by the band’s numerous sounds. Overall there are different individual musical concepts to catch one's attention, and your mind will do the choosing for you. No matter the type of resonation conveyed, Mangan’s smooth vocals are accented.
Moving forward, the tempo in Mouthpiece is upbeat, showing the diversity of the group. An abundant strength projects from Mangan’s voice in an unpredictable way, demanding the listener’s attention. The chorus chimes in on this track, specifically, making an example of the the instrumentals that variably overpower the vocals at times.
If you aren’t tapping your foot yet, the gentle sway of the melodic strings and echoing vocals in tracks like Kitsch will grip you. When the lyrics in the tracks are minimal there is enriching character in the instrumentals. Eerie parallels and off-tempo beats are predominant when the vocals are minimal. When Mangan chimes in with clarity and emotion his voice does not downplay Blacksmith’s style, rather, it creates a bond through the self-observation of each of their talents and this is expected in order to execute the group’s compatibility.
In songs like XVI Mangan could easily be serenading a single person, sitting on a stool, exclusively accompanied by the chords and the trumpet; “If you hate the man, the man hates you too,” he sings, with clear and firm vocals. Though there is a casual melancholy vibe present in some of the songs, the general tone is sombre, if not mildly frenetic. Forgetery, New Skies, and Club Meds are mild but the musical arrangements make for an easy listening experience in their own realm of psychedelic. If easy-going, yet, mind-expanding jams are what put you in your place then Club Meds is definitely worthy of a listen.