Chad Vangaalen – Diaper Island

(Flemish Eye/ Sub Pop)

CHAD VANGAALEN plays the Great Hall on June 18 as part of NXNE. Rating: NNN

It doesn’t feel right to call Chad VanGaalen a folk musician, though he has delivered his fair share of Harvest-inspired lo-fi acoustic balladry. He leaves that almost entirely behind on his fourth album, Diaper Island, which, despite the title and fact that VanGaalen is a new dad, has little or nothing to do with babies.

The reclusive Calgary musician’s DIY production style has always been too experimental to let him fit him into a single genre, and he can definitely get loud, which he does here more than ever before. Overdriven guitars hiss through many of the 12 tracks. Tinny cymbals crash and bang. Short-lived sounds and effects sometimes distract and lead to a cold cacophony reminiscent of Women, whose albums VanGaalen produces.

But his vulnerable warble is still intact, his lyrics remain tenderly existential (aside from, uh, Shave My Pussy), and the noisy bits just make the softer tunes all the more gutting.

Top track: Heavy Stones

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