Review Summary: Chad VanGaalen crafts his most guitar-oriented/rock album to date; also his most cohesive.
I've been listening to Chad VanGaalen's music for a couple of years now. I was at my cousin's house and he showed me Chad's 'Molten Light' music video. I was instantly blown away. Not only did the guy write really haunting and powerful songs - he animated his own music videos as well. In a world of music videos becoming less and less popular, this was really cool to me.
Chad's voice is really something. It cracks and bends with notes; almost reminding me of the way Kurt Cobain used to sing. His guitar tunings are always different and the tones he gets can make you jealous. After listening to and absorbing (and loving) his three previous studio albums, I saw that he was going to be releasing a new album this May: Diaper Island. Many sources said it was going to be, "his most personal album to date."
I am not disappointed. This album is incredible. Chad has crafted his most personal and solid set of songs to date. His previous three albums dabbled in folk and electronica, and while I do love those older albums, Chad's true talent is in creating more rock-oriented music. This is the first album of his that he's recorded in his new home studio and it sounds like he really took his time to layer and produce it to how he wanted it: guitars de-tuned and bending, Chad's voice cracking and moaning with his words, and drums that peak through the speakers, sometimes blurring into a beautiful white noise.
The record starts with "Do Not Fear." A hypnotic guitar line begins the song, with the drums almost marching in a parade that VanGaalen has created with this record. Every song that happens next makes sense in the order they're in. Some of VanGaalen's older albums didn't have this continuity at times, but now songs go into each other effortlessly. After ending "Do Not Fear" with an instrumental outro, it kicks into "Peace On The Rise." The music in this song really reminds me of the first Interpol record. It's definitely a highlight of the album. But my favorite song has to be the next one, "Burning Photographs." Drive to this song and it's almost impossible to not go fast. This song sounds like a Daydream Nation outtake. It's urgency is euphoric.
"Sara" is one of the saddest and most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and "Shave My Pussy" ends the album on a somber note. (I know it doesn't seem possible from the title.) I'm not going to go through every song because all of them have great qualities and are bursting with personality.
In a world of sameness among independent music nowadays, Diaper Island is a much-needed breath of fresh air. Chad VanGaalen has kind of flown under the radar ever since his first album came out, but with this one I have a feeling he'll get the recognition he deserves. I've never heard an artist like him and I hope he keeps doing what he's doing.