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A Canadian weirdo finds the beauty in being half-asleep

In Hear ThisA.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.

Canadian singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen will release a new album, Shrink Dust, later this month on Sub Pop, and though it’s sitting right in front of me, I haven’t listened to it. Instead, I’m listening to his first one, 2004’s Infiniheart, which he wrote and recorded in his bedroom (and you can tell, in the best way). It’s not a record I go back to very frequently, but the reminder—the arrival of Shrink Dust—had me running to Spotify to hear “1000 Pound Eyelids,” a weird little sketch of a song that’s somehow also gorgeously full. It nods to some of the greatest sounds of the late ’90s: A muted horn and some mild buzzing recall Neutral Milk Hotel, and VanGaalen’s whispery delivery isn’t entirely unlike Elliott Smith’s. But it’s the sense of total unsteadiness, the sense that the whole song might just collapse in on itself, that makes it so intriguing. Maybe it’s all on purpose, since the lyrics are about a guy falling asleep while driving, who “must’ve crashed up the car real good / Because I can’t feel anything at all.” If that sounds morbid, it kind of is, but also sort of an incredible subject for a song. It feels like aural morphine, and its sense of creaky calm is unnerving but comforting. VanGaalen has a bunch of other great songs, but none that’s ever struck me the way this one does. Maybe I better crack open that new one.