Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust

Flemish Eye/Sub Pop

Whether playing the freewheelin’ rock dude experimental synth explorer or acoustic balladeer there are a lot of sides to Chad VanGaalen. For his latest sonic exploration however the Calgarian has sharpened his focus.

Following up 2011’s down and dirty Diaper Island VanGaalen seems to be in a calmer more serene state of mind for his fifth full-length Shrink Dust . Unlike some of his more eclectic recent work there are few signs of big fuzzy rock riffs and out-there electronic wizardry with VanGaalen instead putting the focus on a newly acquired pedal steel streamlined song structures and a renewed love for the calm and collected.

Apparently VanGaalen considers this his “country record” and the album’s many acoustically geared songs definitely fall in line with that. The folky “Hangman’s Son” “Cut Off My Hands” and “Weighed Sin” are all classic VanGaalen tearjerkers helping making Shrink Dust perhaps his most tender and sensitive effort since his much-loved Infiniheart debut.

Still there’s plenty of weird pulsing through Shrink Dust as found on the creepy cuddly “Monster” the echo-riddled “Where Are You?” and the sci-fi-geared “Cosmic Destroyer.” But as a whole the album presents a matured VanGaalen and more importantly one who somehow seems more comfortable in his own skin.

It all makes Shrink Dust an easy album to love and one well worth your attention.