Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chad Van Gaalen - Diaper Island

I don’t know what Chad Van Gaalen’s trip is with shitty album titles and profoundly stupid song names (“Shave My Pussy” anyone?), but it needs to stop now. It’s creating a perception of laziness and limited songwriting craft-which is just the opposite of his abilities, as I learned once I finally got the nerve to dive in to Van Gaalen’s latest.

Diaper Island verges on the lo-fi direction of half-a-country away Woods, and countless other N.Y.C. units working with limited production values and a brainfull of big melodies. He finds himself harmonizing with his own voice, overdubbing his barely tuned guitar over Moe Tucker drums and occasional vintage electronics.

Van Gaalen slathers a big layer of echo throughout Diaper Island, which is turning into an overused strategy as of late with indie bands. Yet it works well throughout this record, giving Diaper Island a creepy and haunting vibe.

When he combines it with a nautical motif like ”Throw those bodies from the ship/Let’s feed them to the sea/’Cause no one can remember how/They got here anyway” (“Wandering Spirits”), it’s apparent that he’s spent a great deal of time making Diaper Island a consistently rewarding effort.

Now if he’d only do the same with his album title, maybe more listeners won’t be scared off by what could only be seen as a potentially juvenile release outside of the shrink-wrap.

Because Chad Van Gaalen has done more than just released a polished turd, he’s released a potentially career-defining album.

And who would want an album of that stature identified by some off-the-cuff handle that belies the ambition and hard work contained within it?

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