A couple of weeks ago, the music video for Dan Mangan’s third single off of his latest album Oh Fortune was released. ‘About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All’ is the title of the track, and is also the starting point of the darker-than-usual indie folk journey that is Oh Fortune.
This single serves as a fresh reminder of Mangan’s brave step in a very different direction than Nice, Nice, Very Nice, the sophomore album which made him a staple in Canadian indie music. Where Nice was light and folkie, Fortune is heavier and more alternative, but all without losing the rough familiarity of Mangan’s signature singing style.
The new single, which also doubles as the lead track of the album, first introduced us to this new sound. Starting with strings and lyrics like, “Both feet together / Slowly progressing” in the classic Mangan vocals, ‘As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All’ is the start to something which was a little unexpected but is also another leaping progression in the right way from Mangan. The song was a good choice for a single, being one of the best, in my opinion, of the whole album. The music video on the other hand. . . Well, let’s just say it kind of gave me a headache.
That is not to say that there aren’t some great moments in the video – which there definitely are. The fluttering of confetti before a lake, the flying of the lanterns, and, most importantly, the gorgeousness of Mangan’s eyes every time the camera catches them – these were all solid moments. But the only thing that really gets you through the video is the music itself. The swift changes in shots were too much to handle and came off as distracting from the essence of the video and the song. Overall, the audio-visual experience was not nearly half as enjoyable then listening to song by itself.
Regardless of the video, the new single gives everyone another excuse to revisit Oh, Fortune which is most definitely an album that is worth revisiting many times over. Other gems from it include ‘Starts With Them, Ends With Us’ and ‘Post-War Blues’, another single off the record. Although this album doesn’t have that instant catchiness that Nice, Nice, Very Nice contained, it is one that gives listeners room take it in at a slower pace and grow fond of it over time. It seems that Mangan ditched everything that he knew worked for the record that made him something big, and replaced it all with things that he didn’t know would work – but they ended up working anyway. There is no point in typecasting this artist into one certain category or genre because there is no way of knowing what will come next. The one thing that is for sure is that this album is truly the work of one of Canada’s best singer-songwriters.