At 27 years old, Dan Mangan sometimes sounds like one of those old-soul songwriters who takes cues from previous generations and sings with the dirty, weathered croon of someone approaching middle age. On his second album, though, the Canada native throws some curve balls into the mix. “Robots need love, too/They want to be loved by you,” he sings on the second track, which begins as an acoustic tune before expanding into a stomping, horn-filled singalong. Auxiliary instruments surface throughout Nice, Nice, Very Nice, throwing some refreshing quirkiness into an album that sometimes leans too heavily on sad, stripped-down folk. When Mangan scales back the arrangements, as he does on “The India Queens Are Waiting,” the results are tuneful but somewhat anonymous, as if he’s content to blaze the same trail as fellow folkster Bon Iver. It’s during the unexpected moments -- the quick crescendos in “You Silly Git,” the electric guitar riffs in “Tina’s Glorious Comeback,” and the dynamic opening track -- that he carves out a unique identity, and there are enough moments here to make this a pleasant follow-up.
AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey