"The accent is on introspection, even at its most rocking, the LP never feels as if it's being played to an audience consisting of more than one person. "
Chad van Gaalen – Skelliconnection (Sub Pop/Konkurrent)
If I was being really pithy I'd write this LP up in the following way; pleasant, eclectic, home grown stuff using the most natural ingredients that came to hand. The accent is on introspection, even at its most rocking, the LP never feels as if it's being played to an audience consisting of more than one person. Still, it's a good LP and one worth checking out. Shall we proceed with a brief description of the recording?
After the downbeat piano of Sing Me to Sleep, Flower Gardens is an intense, snarling guitar run - repeated ad infinitum - as if this at times brutal repetition will achieve some state of musical nirvana. Mini TVs is a slothful trawl; the song has to be dragged along by Van Gaalen like some unwilling teenager being taken round a garden centre by their parents. Sonically, it is not a million miles distant from After the Goldrush Neil Young.
Gibberish is a paranoid, drugged stomp with mentions of catastrophes various and contains the great cod-affirming line "I'm never gonna sleep/I'm never gonna sleep" – like some kid scared of nocturnal ghoulish visits. This introspection adds a very pleasing personal feel to the work; it's definitely an album you can get lost in, precious rather than precocious; and the ever changing nature of the instrumentation never feels forced or wilfully perverse. There's a teenage quality at the beginning of the LP too, something that changes by the time we get to Rolling Thunder, a great ballad, almost Crosby-an in its structure. Dead Ends is also a great song, starting off in bedroom-ballad style before blossoming out into a great barroom stomp, replete with wailing falsetto vocals and a gutsy glitzy organ accompaniment.
Red Hot Drops is I presume a stab at MOR balladeering... Dandruff is a rumble in a kitchen cutlery drawer leading to the cod-straight, pastoral psychedelia that goes under the name of See Thru Skin. Burn to Ash starts like Pulp's Babies but soon shrugs off any comparisons by morphing into a cacophonous wig-out, heavy on the reedy organ, Seeds style. Great stuff and over too quickly. Viking Rainbows is a great, ponderous, sonorous noise, reminiscent of early Stereolab.
At this point you wish the opening few tracks could have had a leetle more bite, then you'd have been looking at a classic LP. But sadly it's nearly all over, as its time for the (now seemingly obligatory) quiet ending. The track, Wing Finger is a dead ringer for a Kelley Stoltz song (can't remember which); all banjo plucks, weird flute-like noises and high voices. It's good, and very suitable for a very pleasing and mildly surprising LP.
Words: Richard Foster.