Chad Vangaalen - Diaper Island
- Artist: Chad Vangaalen
- Album: Diaper Island
- Label: Sub Pop
- Year of Release: 2011
- ME Rating:
- Reviewed by: tosnob on 2011-05-25
Usually I'm very skeptical when I hear about an artist that's getting lots of hype on the Interwebs. I'm particularly wary when it's a folk-based artist. That's because my tastes often to jive with those "tastemakers". That has definitely been the case with Calgary's Chad VanGaalen.
At first, his new album Diaper Island, reinforces my opinion. The opening track "Do Not Fear" features a clangy arrangement that leads into a vocal eruption that's downright grating. It gets worse as "Peace On the Rise" sounds like VanGaalen recorded a song over partially erased Sonic Youth demos.
Slowly though, VanGaalen begins to turn the tide. It begins with a head-bopping intro to "Burning Photographs". A whistling line sucks you in on "Sara" and one of the few hooks on the album holds you there. The peppy "Replace Me" carries on the momentum. Van Gaalen also serves up an interesting update on Violent Femmes rhythms with "Freedom for a Policeman".
At times the record does regress. "Can You Believe It!?" is a jumbled mess of sound, while "Wandering Spirits" is a bland, listless number. "No Panic/No Heat" reminds the listener that just because lyrics are personal and sung in an understated manner, does make them interesting.
In the end there are certainly some moments on Diaper Island that are enjoyable or touching. However, VanGaalen is far from the indie Messiah that many have made him out to be. Maybe if his work hadn't been so overhyped I may like it more. Unfortunately we'll never really know for sure.
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