Album Review

Chad VanGaalen - World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener

His cartoonish appetite for invention remains intact.

Chad VanGaalen - World's Most Stressed Out Gardener

How stressful can gardening ever really be? You could apply the same line of thought to Chad VanGaalen himself; as somebody who has only ever marched to the beat of his own softly psychedelic drum, his records are not ones that have ever suggested that the enigmatic Canadian is operating under any kind of weight of expectation, instead offering tantalising glimpses into his adaptable, genre-fluid musical outlook. This eighth full-length is no different in that regard; ‘World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener’ is a typically eclectic collection, running the gamut from short, sharp nuggets of twinkly psych-pop like ‘Nothing Is Strange’ and ‘Samurai Sword’ to the brooding atmospherics of the sprawling ‘Inner Fire’ as well as quietly epic synth odysseys (‘Earth from a Distance’ is a case in point: instrumentally, it plays like a spiritual cousin to Alvvays’ ‘Red Planet’ - a track Chad produced).

Underlining everything is a sense that he’s playing to his musical strengths, both in terms of the way he incorporates so many aspects of his sonic calling card; droll lyricism, field recordings, off-kilter melodies, and a general sense that he’s having the analog and the electronic meet at deliberately awkward junctures - making it all the more impressive when, counterintuitively, the kind of clashes that define ‘Nightmare Scenario’ or ‘Starlight’ actually work strikingly well. Long-time followers of Chad’s will find his cartoonish appetite for invention intact on ‘World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener’, the latest despatch from the Canadian’s own idiosyncratic corner of the musical world.

Tags: Chad VanGaalen, Reviews, Album Reviews

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