Dan Mangan’s fifth album More or Less is a short and sweet reflection and contemplation of parenthood, birth and the realisation that after becoming a father, scoring a film and playing for Will and Kate, he isn’t the 20-something troubadour playing in every café that would put up with him he once was. The album is a collection of gentle songs and artistic flourishes helping it to stand out from the indie-pop Bombay Bicycle Club softly softly genre. The keyboards on Peaks & Valleys are a prime example of Mangan’s growth as an artist and eagerness to dabble and experiment.
The longest song on the album is barely over four and a half minutes and the gentle plodding pace is soothing in a background music sort of way. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is mere coffee shop music. If you care to delve a little deeper into the lyrics you’ll be rewarded with musings on rapidly approaching dystopia (Just Fear), the desperation to disappear (Lay Low) and low key inspirations (Lynchpin). Mangan’s appeal is his everyman demeanour, the way he explores whatever happens to confront him and crop up in real life without ever straying into self-pity, wallowing or mundanity. Cold In The Summer is a particular highlight combining thoughtful simple lyricism with pleasing music. You can tell Mangan has enjoyed every second poured into this album.
More or Less will please fans of Mangan but is also a great gateway for newcomers. There are peaceful songs for relaxing or strolling and there are fast-paced climaxes like Troubled Mind to encourage and inspire. The album has highs and lows but at no point feels lacking musically and Mangan never struggles to find something to say about the state of the world or his. More or Less is a pleasing addition to his back catalogue and a nice sleepy meditation on our world and Mangan’s.