This Nap Eyes article was written by Simon Carline, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.
There are some things in life that can be pondered endlessly whilst never truly reaching a conclusion. One of those things is trying to pin down Nap Eyes and figure out which other artists they sound like. You can spend the first few listens of ‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ racking your brain to decide on just who their brand of Alternative Folk reminds you of – but be warned, it will probably be time wasted. You would be much better served to simply absorb the Nova Scotian fourpiece’s second full length from the word go, and allow the inexplicable familiarity to be a positive element rather than a distraction. Figuring out which friend to recommend it to can wait, you’ve got some ‘Thought Rock’ to enjoy.
The familiarity of ‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ is coupled nicely with an undeniable warmth, which undoubtedly stems from Nap Eyes‘ choice of recording technique. Opting to record the songs live as a full band without the aid of studio wizardry provides a certain air of authenticity, whilst proving an ideal accompaniment for Nigel Chapman’s earnest lyrics. In an age where Pro-Tools and the like can mask the odd piece of shoddy musicianship, Nap Eyes should be commended for staying true to themselves, as the rough around the edges style works in their favour for the most part. There are moments on the record that could possibly have benefitted from a different or stronger vocal take, though, with Chapman’s voice occasionally faltering.
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The odd shaky note is only really noticeable because these vocals are the focal point, with Chapman delivering his often self-reflective lyrics in a half sung/half spoke style that Matt Berninger of The National and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes have been employing over the last 15 years or so. Backed up ably by Josh Salter (Bass), Brad Loughead (Guitar) and Seamus Dalton (Drums), most songs float by effortlessly on sea of slide guitars, showcasing great restraint and only really picking up the pace sporadically throughout the album.
One of the rare moments of increased tempo provides one of the album’s highlights, in the shape of ‘Click Clack’. Here, Chapman focuses on being socially inept and uneasy with himself at times, especially when intoxicated, concisely conveyed with lines like “Sometimes, drinking, I feel so happy but then I can’t remember why. I feel sad all over again”. The issue of being awkward in social situations is also present on the lead single, ‘Mixer’, which depicts forced conversations with strangers. We’ve all been there Nigel.
The existential crisis and a tendency to overthink things is never too far away for Nap Eyes (hardly surprising as Chapman works as a Bio Chemist in his day job), as the contemplative lyrics scattered across the album reflect on how easy it is to worry too much, often to a person’s own detriment. The singer alludes to this on ‘Stargazer’, as he suggests that “If you go round trying to please everybody, it only becomes your crutch”. Whilst it’s hard to believe Chapman lives by his own advice, we shouldn’t complain; it is this humility that makes ‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ an enjoyable listen when self-reflection is the order of the day.
‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ is out on the 5th of February via Paradise of Bachelors.