Best known as the drummer of The Wombats, Dan The Man has ventured out on his own again, with the release of his second solo album Circadian Circus.
Over the past four years, Daniel Haggis, A.K.A, Dan The Man, has been working on the follow up to his self-titled debut in between tours and making albums with The Wombats.
It’s an album filled with self-reflection and hope, intwined with synths and orchestras. We get are first taste of the theme of the record on opening track, ‘Get Out Of Jail Free‘, as it starts with a warm and fuzzy guitar, giving off a summery vibe. From the instrumental set up to Dan’s lyrics, it’s a heartwarming beginning.
Over the four years that Dan has been working on Circadian Circus, he’s used his music as a way of coping with the ups and downs of life. As he states on his Facebook page; “I’ve not experienced too many deaths in my life, but over the past few years a couple of people very close to me have passed away. Both were drawn out, traumatic, sad experiences, and this inevitably leads to questions surrounding one’s own mortality. I don’t think anyone has the answer for how to deal with these parts of life but, for me, music is the place I can just about make sense of the world.” When reading that extract and then listen to Circadian Circus, there are moments in the record that you can hear this come through, more so in the likes of ‘K-O’d‘, ‘Things That Go Bump‘ or the chorus of ‘Flowerpot Men‘, “sometimes it can get too hard, you wish you were dead and I’ll be pushing up the daisies, we’ll be flowerpot men.” A thing to point out is that you can’t help but draw comparisons to John Lennon as you hear the chorus of ‘Flowerpot Men‘.
The Wombats’ drummer doesn’t focus just on dealing with ones own mortality throughout the record, as mentioned, it is an album about hope and perseverance. Haggis reminds us that dark clouds will always clear and that when you’re down, you’ll always be able to get back up. In ‘K-O’d‘, we see this from the perspective of the one who’s down on their luck but having the right attitude of knowing it’ll eventually pass; “K-O’d, but I’m okay…” goes the chorus wrapped in synth and keyboards.
Lead single, ‘Something Good‘ is a funky track, giving vibes of Metronomy twinned with Sufjan Stevens with its whacky sounds and techno. It’s sticking to the sobering mood that was started in ‘K-O’d‘, searching for a moment of joy to ease the pain and erase the regret that seems to be coming across, “give me something good, even if it’s a lie, if it’ll make me smile…” It’s an emotional track that despite it’s funky start, that sense of regret adds to the intensity before closing with a bittersweet end.
‘The Plight of the Dung Beetle‘ sticks to the theme of remaining hopeful, the ballad is beautifully arranged with the piano and strings, with Dan’s gentle vocals completing this stand out moment on the album. He urges to not give up and persevere through the difficult times. “Don’t give up, don’t give up, cos if you fight, then who’s going to?…”
Circadian Circus touches on the topic of modern day fame in ‘Desert Island Dicks‘ and how there’s little people wouldn’t do to have a moment in the spotlight. Dan also creates a nostalgic feel throughout the LP, there are times the album feels like it’s taking us back in time to the 80’s with the influence keyboards and synths have on it. This shines through most in ‘The Army‘ with the main theme at the heart of the record that hope can triumph over anything.
The album ends in harrowing fashion with ‘K-O’d – Reprise‘, with a robotic voice questioning life, death and the meaning of it all, backed by just a piano that adds to the sentiment of the song. It runs for just over a minute and a half but in that time it cements its place as one of the best tracks on Circadian Circus.
This album is an emotional ride but never pulls away from the message the heart of it, that life is hard but you can persevere and enjoy the journey to the end. Dan The Man reaches into your heartstrings and plays with them to create an album filled with hope.
Songs worth putting on repeat: Flowerpot Men, Desert Island Dicks, Something Good, The Army, K-O’d Reprise
Circadian Circus by Dan The Man is out now.