Chad Vangaalen has called this his country album, but don’t be fooled: the use of his newly acquired pedal steel isn’t overly extensive and when it is used it’s effective. With twelve songs clocking in at forty-two minutes, Shrink Dust is the perfect length. While it’s more sedate than past albums and not nearly as weird (there’s no song titled anything as outrageous as “Shave My Pussy,” for example), it’s still got Vangaalen’s flavor of falsetto vocals, bleeps and bloops from keyboards, and an almost hypnotic beat in some songs. Many of them are tinged with sadness, more so than previous releases. (Who knew that a song about a dead dog [“Lila”] could be such a bummer?) His lyrics are still offbeat and unique: “Let’s get high on other people’s dreams” (“Frozen Paradise”) and “Cut off both my hands and threw them in the sand / Watch them swim away from me like a pair of bloody crabs” (“Cut Off My Hands”) are just two such examples. Due to the mellowness and lack of complexity, this is easily Vangaalen’s most accessible album, but it’s still got enough of his psychedelic folk influence to mean this will never be mainstream. That’s fine by me. This will be our secret pop record.
–kurt (Sub Pop)