Chad VanGaalen: World’s Most Pressured Out Gardener Album Evaluation

Chad VanGaalen’s artistic habits look conveniently pandemic-proof. The Calgary songwriter, animator, and all-objective eccentric has…

Chad VanGaalen’s artistic habits look conveniently pandemic-proof. The Calgary songwriter, animator, and all-objective eccentric has been hunkered down, producing information by himself in his dwelling studio and creative den, Yoko Eno, considering that very long ahead of he had a public overall health reason to do so. The location is a bit of an inventor’s laboratory in which you’re liable to uncover something from an ancient Korg monosynth to a handmade instrument recognised as a “Barnswallow,” and it’s where VanGaalen has been building fragmented noise-pop tunes that burrow deep into his vibrant unconscious considering the fact that 2011’s superb Diaper Island.

But on World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener—his eighth studio album, if you depend very last year’s Bandcamp-only Shed Harmonies, and sixth for Sub Pop—even a homebody like VanGaalen can not stop a little bit of apocalyptic dread from the outside the house world creeping in. On “Nothing Is Weird,” a beautiful, rickety ballad on par with Diaper Island’s “Sara” or Tender Airplane’s in the same way themed “Rabid Bits of Time,” VanGaalen spins a Beetlejuice-like tale of wondering if he’s already died. “Turn up the radio/I assume we’re lifeless,” he sings, his voice garbled and decaying. Then there is “Nightwaves,” a clattering rocker in which VanGaalen reckons with the intoxicating hum of endless doom-scrolling: “Everybody’s obtaining large on the identical soreness,” he scowls. “I just can’t come to feel a factor.”

Named for the musician’s fondness for increasing veggies in his backyard and gobbling them raw, like a grazing animal, World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener is an odd, abrasive record, even by VanGaalen’s specifications. It’s also the very first to draw major affect from his facet hustle creating instrumental scores for Adult Swim displays. The file opens with “Spider Milk,” a curdled psych-people fantasy that limited-circuits into a screeching rock climax deserving of people VanGaalen-made Girls records, before likely medieval with “Flute Peace,” a 46-second overture apparently rescued from VanGaalen’s aborted programs for a minimalist flute album. If that seems punishing, the album’s other two instrumental offerings—“Earth From a Distance” and “Plant Music”—are fortunately much superior: comfortable-concentrate mood pieces match for a 1980s sci-fi motion picture rating.

VanGaalen unleashes a more intense alien power on “Starlight” and “Inner Hearth,” dark krautrock exercise sessions in which the singer appears less like a Do it yourself dude than a wild-eyed cult chief. He also retains his flair for oddball instrumentation: “Starlight” squeezes creepy appears from what appears like a babbling autoharp, when “Samurai Sword” capabilities the clanging accompaniment of copper plumbing pipes currently being performed as a xylophone. It is often scattershot, but the songwriter’s refusal to streamline his weirdness is a reward.

The throughline, as at any time, is VanGaalen’s knack for crafting emotionally resonant tracks out of absurd premises—be it a eyesight of a magical pear (“Golden Pear”) or a search for a misplaced samurai sword (“Samurai Sword”)—as well as his feverishly energetic subconscious. For yrs, he’s borrowed from his possess desires for key product there was 2004’s “Blood Machine,” about a bunch of people’s hearts plugged into a machine for circulating blood, and 2014’s “Weird Appreciate,” in which he explained a desire about plants talking. When Chad VanGaalen runs out of bizarre goals to compose music about, that’s when he’ll know it’s time to pack it in.


Acquire: Tough Trade

(Pitchfork earns a commission from purchases made by means of affiliate one-way links on our web page.)

Capture up each Saturday with 10 of our most effective-reviewed albums of the 7 days. Indication up for the 10 to Hear newsletter in this article.