Chad VanGaalen passes on some Light Information our way.Sub Pop, 2017
6.0 / 10
I dig Chad VanGaalen‘s ability to pursue a weird path with his music. He often writes lyrics that are just strange yet they’re sinister in their description, and it makes for moments that catch the ear. However, VanGaalen is prone to lose the ear just as easily. Our site described his album, Shrink Dust, as “space folk” and that very well could apply. Or psych folk. Or experimental folk. The point is that he’s not your typical folk musician. Hell, he might not even consider himself one. But he is a singer/songwriter, who crafts almost every aspect of his art. Plus, his vocals come close to Neil Young; though, VanGaalen’s voice is less frail. Still, when he wails, it may hurt your ears just a tad.
Vocals aside; what hurts VanGaalen’s ability to hold his listeners’ attention may be his over-experimentation. It causes many of the songs to bleed together without any buffer zone or palate cleanser on Light Information. Instead, we just go from one interesting yet abrasive melody to another. His sharp lyric-writing often gets lost in the process. But that doesn’t stop some songs from landing strong. The jangly, percussive romp, “Old Heads”, could have the catchiest lyric about an identity crisis as VanGaalen sings, “Who is the operator/ Keeping all of my selves together?”
However, “Host Body” might be the album’s best song, which feels like classic VanGaalen. “I’ll be the host body, yes/ For the parasitic demons/ They can eat me from the inside out/ I already hear the chewing,” he sings. Ghostly synthesizers carry over from “Prep Piano and 770”. Here, VanGaalen could be addressing how the political atmosphere is dividing our country. He uses a metaphor of what sounds like an alien invasion similar to the Body Snatchers. But maybe it’s not a metaphor. Perhaps, he does really sense something weird and supernatural occurring in our reality. We could scoff at the idea, but someone had to write such a song. And VanGaalen’s just the guy to do it.