From New York, to Brussels, to Torino, to Texas, this album of alternative folk-rockin’, masterfully morose music is number three from Galapaghost. ‘I Never Arrived’ is an interesting twist of terrific tunes and self-defeating lyrics, and I contemplate the wonder that this album came to fruition. It seems that lead Casey Chandler, has indeed arrived at something very precious, and perhaps an interesting product for future him to look back on to see, hopefully, how much more confident he has become since this dynamically self-deprecating album itself arrived. So let’s dig in…
Now typically I would work through the album, telling a story track by track, but this ethereal, acoustic number really must be tackled in one go, to my mind. A travelogue of transparency, Galapaghost not only shares hard truth, but one of those truths seems to be how unnoticed his sharing of those truths has been to date…an interesting cyclical journey that may mean he’s arrived, only to find he’s been to this place before; arriving right back at the beginning.
I could, of course be completely off on this album, music being wonderfully open to interpretation, but I take this new work to be a tale of struggle through the artistic life. I don’t want to harp too much on this point (artists constantly in love with waxing poetical about their hardships as artists), but having just made a move to pursue the arts up North myself, I grasp Chandler’s music as this eternal struggle to define success. ‘Mr. Mediocrity‘ hits it on the nose the hardest: wanting to scream like Cobain or at least “invent a genre like him”, or sing like Paul Simon, or at least know all his chords or, and this is the big one: have “the strength that John Grant has to reinvent himself…” Having toured with John Grant, I presume there is a heavy inspiration for Chandler that comes with this line, but also a sense of inferiority, comparing one’s self to other artists, and never taking true stock of one’s own accomplishments. If nothing else, this album certainly serves as a mirror for the way so many artists feel about their own creative drudgery.
‘I Never Arrived’ does have the weight of a kite tied to an anchor, but that does not mean it doesn’t have some room for levity. There is after all still a flight of some sort, even if one is still held to the ground one way or another. The opening track, ‘Mazes In The Sky‘, a buoyant, uplifting piece about one’s inevitable fall may be languid lyrically, but musically it is full of mirth; there is a warmth to the beautiful guitar, and sweet singing that this album could simply not do without. There is jollity of sorts also in the humourusly saddening track ‘The Greatest Roommate‘: an ode to all of the worst roommates one has ever experienced.
As sad as much of this album is, in spite of the little lifts of levity here and there, there is also a sweetness of sorts in Galapaghost’s lyrics on love. Though still touched with that melancholic quality that characterizes the album, tracks like ‘Science of Lovers‘, ‘Vitamin D‘, ‘Goodbye (My Visa Arrived)‘, and ‘Our Place‘ are full of love (and loss), and the yearning for Galapaghost to find his place in the world; keeping on his journey to find his peace. The clarity with which Chandler’s vulnerable vocals share with his audience the pain, the conflict, and the brief sense of freedom throughout these tracks, is beautiful.
Such interesting combinations of synth, sullen singing, haunting harmonies, and ethereal effects come together to make this most interesting of alternative, experimental folk albums from Galapaghost.
‘I Never Arrived’ is a despairing album detailing the drudgery of the wandering soul; the search for success, the journey for acceptance not only by others, but by one’s self, and though the flight may always end, and one may wish to go higher, one must always tread the ground again, and work for the peace one needs personally.