July 7, 2014

Chad VanGaalen - "Weighed Sin"

One of my all-time favourite humans, Chad VanGaalen, released Shrink Dust, his fifth full length, at the end of April and I'm ashamed to admit that I've only just begun to really appreciate it. I may have been distracted by all his other endeavours: his work with Viet Cong, his new Instagram account, and Zooosh, his comic series for Chart Attack. Every couple of years, VanGaalen pulls back the curtain and let's us take a look at all the weird stuff he's getting up to. Most of the time, I just sit back in awe.

Shrink Dust is less punchy than some of VanGaalen's previous releases but it moves slow and steady through the same kind of sophisticated songwriting that touches the best tracks of his catalogue. Along with its alt-country vibes, the songs on Shrink Dust have a natural flow about them: a clear contrast to the disjointedness that, for better or worse, has defined VanGaalen's previous full lengths.

Perhaps because of their intended use in an unfinished film project, the songs on Shrink Dust consistently tickle the imagination with bizarre imagery and shifting first-person perspectives. If it weren't for the disturbing confessions of its grotesque, pitiable character, "Monster" might as well be a campfire sing-along for kids. The stoner jam "All Will Combine" shifts between eerie verses and the spacey, organ-fuelled sounds of its celebratory chorus. Other beauties like "Lila," "Hangman's Son" and "Weighed Sin" (see the video above) follow in the tradition of songs like "Molten Light" (from Soft Airplane) and "Sarah" (from Diaper Island), blending VanGaalen's creepy brand of melancholy into the kind of earnest folk ballads that tug on your heartstrings and don't let go.

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