Dave McGovern
staff writer
September 29, 2005
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Infiniheart Infiniheart
August 23, 2005
Sub Pop
Skelliconnection Skelliconnection
August 22, 2006
Sub Pop
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Rock Music Reviews
Chad VanGaalen
Infiniheart

Chad VanGaalen has a beautiful voice: smooth and sweet. The best way to describe in writing what his voice sounds like is to describe the vessel the voice leaves. Eyes closed, neck strained and leaning towards the microphone, ligaments straining, singing with only half the mouth. There is confidence in his voice but at the same time he is scarred and anxious. His vocals definitely make Infiniheart a worthwhile listen.

The music on the album is not bad, but with out the vocals it would just be typical. The songs are largely based in acoustic guitar and Sunday afternoon passed simple drums. Chad has taken a page from the Robot Ate Me’s use of seemingly random whines, hums and ambience to thicken out the tracks. Content-wise, Infiniheart deals with death and dying. In many songs, Chad treats the human body as a machine, such as the album's first track, “Clinically Dead.”

clinically he was dead/ but the motor inside his head was still working/ so they plugged him into a machine and let his brain dream.

The lyrics and tone are reminiscent of the Unicorn’s sense of macabre but with less emphasis on humor and more whimsical frankness. “Clinically Dead” starts with pumping bass kicks, a guitar melody and hums in reverse. The chorus is revealed with marching power chords and bells before truly cutting loose when the distortion pedal is stomped, leaving the listener feeling anything but dead.

“Kill Me in My Sleep” is the next track and slows down the pace of the album. Acoustic guitar and liberal use of ride cymbal gives this track a very summer afternoon country/folk feel. The song also has the best lyrics of Infiniheart: “so tell me ‘bout your mom/ and how she cuts her hair/ does she like it short/ or does she grow it out like seaweed/ (enter layered falsetto vocals) cause you are not awake/ you are not awake.”

I have to stress how this record is an album: the songs build upon one another, the mood shifts with each track. Infiniheart is definitely an album that should be listened to beginning-to-end with no interruption. I would really love to talk about the album track by track , but that would ruin the album (and why read about it when you could and should listen instead?). Instead, here are other Infiniheart highlights: The modest slide guitar and hi-hat of “I miss you like I miss you” feels like you are walking down overgrown railroad tracks at sunset, “Sunshine Snare Hit” will leave you pining for the one that got away, and “Traffic” has you fall asleep at the wheel followed by a trip to the bottom of the ocean.

Chad has done a beautiful job with Infiniheart. This record will dominate your stereo for a month, no question about it. There is nothing really break through about this album; same old formula of fleshed out singer/songwriter with a fresher taste. Infiniheart is a good album and a great start, but I feel that Chad is one or two albums away from a truly beautiful and masterful album.

Release date: August 23, 2005
Label: Sub Pop
Rating: 6.5 / 10

[RMR]