Chad VanGaalen: Shrink Dust (Sub Pop) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Chad VanGaalen

Shrink Dust

Sub Pop

May 22, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

At this stage in the game, we sort of know what to expect when Calgary homebody Chad VanGaalen puts out a new album: woozy, spacious, acoustic-based tracks that cut beautiful, melancholy, desert-flower melodies with disturbing background noise; lyrics full of strange imagery that itches at your brain; sinewy vocal harmonies. Fifth album Shrink Dust begins with the singer/songwriter calling his severed hands “a pair of bloody crabs,” crooning the words in a voice as wiry and fragile as a cobwebvery much business as usual, then, but there’s something so earnest about VanGaalen’s output that however much we’ve heard it all before, we don’t mind hearing it again.

Shrink Dust is so echoey and intimate that it’s as though we’re hearing VanGaalen pouring his heart out to an empty bar roomparticularly on quieter tracks such as the Neil Young-indebted “Hangman’s Son” and hushed “Lila,” a subdued Fleet Foxes-alike number whose existence someone should probably tell Wes Anderson about. It’s not all wistful acoustic tracks: things are spiced up with scratchy ‘60s garage rock-inflected songs, such as the clanging racket of “Leaning on Bells” and the stomping “All Will Combine.” Shrink Dust is ultimately VanGaalen doing what VanGaalen does best: beguilingly wonky folk-rock that’s equally at ease tugging at your heartstrings or hitting you with ominous promises of revenge and heartfelt confessions of sin. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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