Chad VanGaalen's 'World's Most Stressed Out Gardener' Is Totally Incoherent, and That's Why It's So Much Fun

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 15, 2021

The best Chad VanGaalen albums don't have a consistent mood, style or even instrumental palette. Rather, they feel like anything-goes dispatches from the Calgary songwriter/producer/illustrator's workshop, where no idea is too strange and nearly anything can be used as a musical instrument.

World's Most Stressed Out Gardener, his first official album since 2017 (not including a few oddments released on Bandcamp) feels a bit like half a dozen albums in one. There are creeping krautrock grooves ("Starlight," "Inner Fire"), ramshackle nursery rhymes ("Samurai Sword," "Spider Milk," "Golden Pear"), straight-up rockers ("Nightwaves," "Nightmare Scenario"), and a jarring neoclassical finale of sawing strings that sound like the Psycho score only fun ("Water Brother"). "Nothing Is Strange" sounds suspiciously like the vocals are run through that wobbly voice filter on TikTok.

The instrumentals are perhaps even stranger, ranging from the pastoral trills of "Flute Peace" to the Twin Peaks synth pads of "Earth from a Distance" to the Eastern strings of "Plant Music."

Is it incoherent? Absolutely, but that's all part of the fun. Although it's tempting to wish for an entire album in the same style — the krautrock tunes are especially strong — that wouldn't be nearly as fun as this strange tour through VanGaalen's brain.
(Flemish Eye Records)

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