Chad VanGaalen

When: Wed., May 21, 8:30 p.m. 2014

With handmade instruments and a home studio at his disposal, VanGaalen’s released some of the most complex pop records of recent years and his latest, Shrink Dust (Flemish Eye, Sub Pop 2014) is his strongest yet. A country album of sorts, Shrink Dust follows a dynamic structure that is both refreshing and familiar to VanGaalen’s devoted listeners. It opens with a one-two punch; first, the understated “Cut Off My Hands,” followed by the psych rock “Where Are You.” It’s in the first two tracks that we’re given the vast scope of VanGaalen’s vision for this record. In “Monster,” an uncomfortable transformation is the subject of a playful rumpus as VanGaalen questions whether blackened quills sprouting out of one’s back should be cause for revulsion or celebration. Such is the way with VanGaalen’s songs – his reality is often perplexing and challenging. Two of the most beautifully melodic refrains on Shrink Dust are “I’m a monster” and “evil.” Something dark is at play here, but not so dark as to disturb; there’s a comfort in the omniscient evil, because it belongs to all of us. In “Hangman’s Son,” VanGaalen opens himself to the comforting darkness as he sings, “Oh have mercy on the demons that curse me / Oh lay it on me when my time has come.” Indianapolis welcomes VanGaalen at a show tonight at the Hi-Fi alongside Cousins and Bryn Webb of The Constantines.

Price: $12

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