Dan Mangan

Roboteering EP (FU:M)

His 2005 debut, Postcards and Daydreaming, was strong enough to put the very youthful Mangan on the road for some four years, and this teaser from his forthcoming album Nice, Nice, Very Nice would suggest that the wheels will be turning for a few more years yet. “Robots” sees Mangan wrangling his folkie template into something approaching ever-so-slightly cracked alt-Canadiana, all wintry and reminiscent of Gord Downie’s underappreciated solo moments. Mournful brass, a sing-along blowout at the end, and Mangan’s distinctive voice, which is confident and weary beyond his years, like it’s been aged in oak, all conspire to make this track the probable hit on first listen.

A two-hander with Veda Hille called “The Indie Queens Are Waiting” and the upbeat two-step “Sold” are every bit as compelling, twisty, and imaginative, all within a fairly conventional framework of acoustic guitars, dobro, bass, and piano. In other words, Mangan manages to keep the old formula fresh. But future collectors of Manganalia (I’m totally trademarking that word) will want the two remaining tracks. “Till I Fall” has the singer returning to a 2003 demo and pouring hot magma all over it, like a postrock Mark Lanegan, and “Tragic Turn of Events/Move Pen Move” is a nine-minute epic song-poem made in collaboration with Shane Koyczan that’s at least a million times better than it looks on paper.