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Chilling the Blood, Then Drinking It

A lamentably unheralded Canadian singer, multi-instrumentalist and visual artist, Chad VanGaalen writes songs that often return to themes of alienation and internal — even biological — rebellion. His strikingly humane U.S. debut, 2005's Infiniheart, views the enslavement of humankind and individual human loneliness with the same winsome intimacy, in the process making them feel strangely related.

The new Skelliconnection feels a bit slicker, but while it sacrifices some of its predecessor's aching poignancy, it still metes out a few surprises. A vivid and unnerving ode to vampirism, "Red Hot Drops" does an exceptional job capturing its subject's sinister allure — the surrender and ease of "draining with no pain" — before rupturing into a rare moment of oddly funky release.

With a backdrop of skittish drum machines and whirring synths, the song's breezy but uneasy buildup aches with strangely lilting sadness. Exuding playfulness while oozing world-weary exhaustion, "Red Hot Drops" feels simultaneously mournful and exhilarating, chilling the blood while celebrating the bittersweet pleasures of drinking it.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)