Part of the reason why the Halifax band, Nap Eyes, is so seductive to me is that their lead singer Nigel Chapman sounds like what a lot of men think they would sound like had they tried to actually sing. Chapman’s no Freddie Mercury but there’s something in his voice that’s simultaneously lackadaisical and charming. He rarely hits high notes and even when he does he sometimes shifts and brings back the pitch down to something more manageable. Chapman channels a sort of anti-poet, cramming thoughts into bars rather than words onto beats, speeding up or dragging his delivery when needed. In this sense, Chapman’s a rhyming rambler, a modern day young Dylan with lines like, “The judge came to my house and he knew about my job situation, I didn’t have to explain it to him, took everything I said as insinuation.” Actually, make that a Dylan with more self-doubt (on ‘Roll It’ he sings “you know there’s something wrong here but you don’t know what it is, could it be me?”).
Then on ‘Click Clack’:
Sometimes, drinking, I feel so happy but then
I can’t remember why; I feel sad all over again
Sometimes, drinking, I don’t know my best friend for my best friend
Yet this alone is not enough to explain why Nap Eyes should be on everyone’s radar. I’d have to mention their stripped down sound: most songs only have two guitars, a bass, and drums. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, we’re living in an era of Production where everything is crafted to perfection. Except of course, a lot of new music ends up sounding bloated, overfed with musical GMOs. I can actually hear Josh Salter’s bass throughout the entire record and it’s a good thing cause he plays a mean jazzy bass on opener ‘Mixer’. Glimmering chords abound, but Salter’s bass is the true fulcrum, supporting the song. Over gentle strumming and sparse percussion (Seamus Dalton), Chapman sings “Mixer on a Friday night, some pretty girls and guys are here. But when I look at myself on my right, I’m wondering if I’m really here.” The lyrics fit the song like hot chocolate to winter. You don’t have to since Nap Eyes are going on tour and gracing our city in April, yet you can imagine Chapman swaying rather than rocking. In the words of Henry Rollins, this is cold weather music.
All this isn’t to say that Nap Eyes aren’t your coke-snorting-hair-raising arena rock band. Sure, some of the guitar riffs (Brad Loughead) on this album are indeed catchy, adding flair beyond a three-chord progression. The closer ‘Trust’ has a nice drive, akin to Courtney Barnett, creating what is probably the catchiest song on Thought Rock Fish Scale. Elsewhere, ‘Click Clack’ actually sounds like it derives from country and ‘Alaskan Shake’ has some slide guitars that induce images of Hawaiian beaches. However, to get into Nap Eyes is to settle in your rocking chair and be led into the labyrinth that is Chapman’s mind, guided by the lilting guitars of Nap Eyes.
Nap Eyes’ Thought Rock Fish Scale was released Feb 5. They are appearing at Casa del Popolo with Cian Nugent on April 8.