Album Review: Van Dale - 'The Visitor'


Melancholic melodies that hit you like a ton of bricks. Van Dale’s third album ‘The Visitor’ is the perfect American alternative album. The Ohio trio have crafted a body of work that is faultless in this genre.

The Visitor clearly has influences ranging from the American alterative scene both past and present. Take for instance the first two tracks ‘Hard Year’ and ‘Numbskull’. These could easily be Dinosaur Jr titles on any of their records. ‘Hard Year’ sets the listener up for what’s to come with the contrast of big, loud and fuzzy instruments that balance out the soft and catchy vocal lines. And the guitars sustain for days – I don’t think they actually hit the strings too often throughout the song.  Then second track ‘Numbskull’ is a bit of a sludge-come-blues rocker with big hooks.

‘Pier Pressure’ is a doom-laden and jangly track. This is one of the best tracks. It sounds like something Kurt Vile and J Mascis would have written, and the simple and fuzzy guitar solos kick things up a notch and just tug at the heartstrings perfectly.

If you like Pixies, you’ll like The Visitor as well. ‘Mama’ is an obvious one with its Black Francis sense of melody and knack for off-kilter lyricism, and the guitar lines are little weirder here that give it the same edge as Joey Santiago.  The female-lead vocals in ‘Porch’ could be mistaken for Kim Deal too. They’re beautiful, very much like the angelic vocal lines in ‘4 Lonely Roads’ by Manic Street Preachers. ‘Burnin Up’ is slower-paced with an epic solo that breaks up the album nicely, and it’s good to hear the female vocals for an entire song rather than as a backing vocal line.

Another standout track is ‘Crystalina’ that begins with a Foo Fighters-esque clean and jangly chord progression. But again, Van Dale do what they do best and go straight into another great hook backed by big guitars. Put this together and you get a truly emotive feeling that only music can create.

Admittedly, The Visitor nothing ground-breaking. But if you’re a big fan of American alternative guitar bands, The Visitor is a great album. But the beauty here lies in the sheer number of hooks littered across the record that will garner new fans of the band, which Van Dale thoroughly deserve.

Words by Matthew Brocklehurst