Published Jun 24, 2016Released without warning on June 17, Dan Mangan's new Unmake EP is a small collection of originals and re-workings that opens another window into the BC artist's gift for songwriting.
"Race to the Bottom," in effect the EP's single, charges forward at a driving pace unheard since 2011's Oh Fortune, as Mangan searches for an antidote to apathy, defeatism and nostalgia, and looks for a way forward: "We don't know what we got or if we got it / And what we had, we already forgot it." The band sprinkles bits of brightness amid its sullenness, as if to convey that there's still hope left somewhere, but so far it's nowhere to be found.
"Whistleblower" is a soothing tune led by a magnificent vocal performance and backed by a haunting organ section. One might liken it to his gentle, stripped-down earlier tunes, like "Basket" from his 2009 breakout album Nice, Nice, Very Nice, paired with the sombre, solemn touch of his more recent work. "Hang with Me," meanwhile, is a lovely cover of Swedish pop singer Robyn that cuts deep into the bubbly electro-pop single to magnify its hearty melodies. File it next to singer-songwriters like Ryan Adams or Dustin Kensrue, whose offbeat cover choices have resulted in wonderfully fresh new works.
Two reprised tracks from last year's Club Meds round things out: "Forgetery Redux" features a nice trade-off with guest singer Tegan Quin, while "Kitsch Redux" pulls back the original's many intertwined layers to more fully reveal its gloomy core. Taken altogether, this EP may be considered an amalgam of bonus content, but make no mistake: Unmake is quintessential Dan Mangan. (Arts & Crafts)