Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Robots" by Dan Mangan

[Photo: Jonathan Taggart]

It seems like in the last month or so I've been hearing (reading, actually) a lot about this Dan Mangan character. People (other music bloggers) have been saying really nice things, like, for example, "[i]t's hard to believe that this new collection of stellar songs won't help him leave each tour stop with countless new fans in his corner". So, step one for me was to check out some of the free mp3s from his new record Nice, Nice, Very Nice.

One of those singles happened to be "Robots", as you may have guessed. On the face of it, "Robots" is relatively standard singer-songwriter fare -- he starts off strumming the guitar, a little light drumming comes in, we slow down a little, get a little quieter, and we have the formula for basically every dude with a guitar song written in the last twenty years.

Of course, this isn't the entire story... Once you get past the intro the song becomes inherently more interesting both musically and thematically. We get some horns that slowly start to seep in, the texture of Mangan's voice starts to vary a little bit, it becomes more expressive, and, additionally, also, the backing vocals gradually build to the point where we have a whole chorus of people explaining to us that "robots need love too", which, well, that's just good information to have. Thematically, the whole robots thing is just kind of a quirky, fun, way to tell what might have been, again, a pretty standard singer-songwriter tune.

On the strength of "Robots" I ended up picking up Nice, Nice, Very Nice from my local record store, and I'm thinking that this may end up being one of my favourite singer-songwriter records of the year... that is, if the rest of the record is this good...

[mp3] Dan Mangan - Robots

... a huge group of people singing the chorus... terrific...

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