More or Less

More or Less

“Every morning’s a resurrection,” Dan Mangan sings on “Lynchpin,” the first song of his fifth album, crystallizing the philosophy that’s guided the Vancouver-based singer through his increasingly adventurous discography. While each of his records up to this point has expanded upon his formative acoustic-troubadour template—be it the orchestral flourishes of 2011’s Oh Fortune or the art-rock experimentation of 2015’s Club Meds—the deconstructed electro-folk of More or Less constitutes his most radical reinvention yet. You can sense the change instantly in the austere funk of that opening track, whose vacuum-sealed bass throb serves as the dam trying to contain encroaching waves of subliminal sax melodies and swirling synths. This is an album largely inspired by both the joys and fears of new parenthood (Mangan and his partner, Kirsten Slenning, welcomed their second child in 2016) and throughout, Mangan sounds torn between retreating into the blissful cocoon of family life and reckoning with the awfulness of the outside world. “Peaks & Valleys” is the sort of affecting folk serenade that a younger Mangan would’ve been content to croon around the campfire, but here it comes outfitted with a jittery, jazzy backbeat and freaky sound effects. And on the centerpiece track, “Troubled Mind,” he wrestles with the most despairing of existential queries: “What the hell is wrong with everybody right now?”

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