Chad VanGaalen's Sub Pop debut is a refreshing
new addition to contemporary music, essentially because
it can't be pegged. Amongst scenes and trends,
Infiniheart stands alone. Melding big, weary
Fleetwood Mac-esque emotion to stretched-out
arrangements, both electronic and folk, the Canadian
singer/songwriter's power lies in his dedication
to his own individuality.
While the 16-track
record's best song is doubtless the stirring,
emotionally-charged opener "Clinically Dead," the
album does not lose strength as you move deeper into
it; nor does it feel like one long song. The narrator
behind the depressed, folk-y "After the Afterlife" is
disappointed in people who are not paying attention to life: "You are not awake/
are not awake," VanGaalen repeats, with sadness in his
voice, atop intimate acoustic strumming. The
instrumental "J.C.'s Head on the Cross"
demonstrates VanGaalen's knack for beat-heavy Kid
A-ish experimentation, while "Echo Train" rides on
the main riff behind The Who's version of "Crimson and Clover,"
and features the album's most loud, crashing
Lyrically, VanGaalen who plays all the
instruments on Infiniheart questions all the
biggies: life, love and loss. And while they tackle big
matters, his carefully chosen words are accessible
enough to be touching. Birds chirp in the background of
"The War Zone/ Hidden Bridge" while VanGaalen's
high-pitched, breathy coos sit up front, alongside
glitchy beats, funky organ and xylophone tinkering.
For more than a decade, VanGaalen has been crafting
unique, soulful songs in his bedroom; with
Infiniheart he's arrived with a folk-y yet modern
collection that's truly hard not to like.