The Canadian cavalier of eclectic indie-pop, best known for creating a catchy mismatch of tunes from his basement, has discovered new territory both with his latest release and his job as a full time father. Diaper Island, perhaps aptly named as a reflection on 3 years of parenthood, is by far Chad VanGaalen‘s most consistent album to date. In the past, the listener would be treated to a variety of genres blended together; everything from folk tunes to bizarre synth creations spewed out with a degree of restlessness. Diaper Island, his first album recorded in a studio, is a stripped down, raw version of an artist who takes great pleasure in playing, singing and producing every piece of music and art. The result is an immediately accessible album from a crooner whose voice reminds me of a young Neil Young.
Diaper Island comfortably moves from indie-pop to a guy and his electric guitar. His slightly off-kilter vocals, sounding more confident than ever, provide access to the inner struggles of his mind. Songs of regret, global consciousness and the inner spirit permeate the story telling, and it becomes imminently clear that VanGaalen’s prose has also matured into well crafted and socially conscious narratives. Even the awkwardly named ‘Shave My Pussy’ sends a message against hyper-masculine tendencies to objectify women as sexualized barter chips. “Maybe if I shave my pussy / Then you’ll love me / Baby will you love me? / I’m really feeling ugly.”
Diaper Island is the shit that’s wrong with the world and VanGaalen will have you rockin’ and reflecting to tunes begging for mercy and action. His crap slinging approach comes across as honest and unpretentious while his guitar work and instrumentation is cohesive and complementary. The album flows well with danceable tracks like ‘Burning Photographs’ and ‘Replace Me’ fitting perfectly on either side of ‘Heavy Stones’ and ‘Sara’; two gorgeous tracks that show no signs of haste and invite the listener into a sonically intimate setting. Diaper Island transitions from track to track effortlessly and it has that rare quality which requires listening to the album in its entirety in order to be fully satiated.
With a focus on metaphorical mountains of crap and a gritty, blunt sound, Diaper Island is an album that will be relevant for years to come. This is the finest progression from the Calgary based singer, songwriter, producer and artist, and he is fast becoming one of Canada’s most prolific hidden gems.