Song of the Day: Chad VanGaalen – Mind Hijacker's Curse

Song of the Day, The Midday Show w/ Cheryl Waters
photo by Elizabeth Crook (view set)

By Beverly Bryan

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Mind Hijacker's Curse” by Chad VanGaalen from his album Light Information, available now via Sub Pop.

Chad VanGaalen – Mind Hijacker's Curse (MP3)

Science fiction has a somewhat earned reputation as emotionally detached, even dry. Psychedelia (old and new) often occupies an amoral, or at least mentally dissociated space, which, in fairness, is part of the fun. Combining the two often leads in the direction of cold, cerebral prog-rock, or worse. That's why it's so delightful when Calgary's Chad VanGaalen blends these elements to reveal an unusual amount of heart in both.

He's done this a lot, but a particularly fine example is “Mind Hijacker's Curse,” the lo-fi/sci-fi psych single off his recent album Light Information. In the song, lyrics about love, time and space are given urgency by the convincing ache and waver in VanGaalen's voice, while the sweet melody is undergirded by a pulsing, warm-blooded bass line. The icing is futuristic synth sounds that are more plaintive than they should be. The whole piece is as odd as it is effective.

Light Information contains a few other weirdly wonderful gems, but “Mind Hijacker's Curse” stands out for its catchiness and conviction. (Imagine a cut from a Future Islands album heavily influenced by peyote and Saturday morning cartoons and you're part-way there.) Its hook will grab your attention, but, if it clings to your brain, it's probably because of the lyric's teasing ambiguity: The song could be an aria in a literal space opera, but it could just as easily be a tender anthem for any lonely soul lost in this endless universe.

There are no local dates from him at the moment, but you can track Chad's interdimensional meanderings via his Facebook. Watch the video for "Mind Hijacker's Curse"  below.

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