Release Date: Mar 9, 2018
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Nap Eyes are a remarkably consistent band. Their 2015 debut, Whine of the Mystic, contains nine tracks of breezy, itinerant indie rock that only occasionally rambles on too long. The follow-up, 2016's Thought Rock Fish Scale, does more or less the same thing. So the question for these Canadian crypto-jammers is: mix it up on LP3 or nah? I'm Bad Now is another reliable slab from Nap Eyes, with stronger melodies and more consistency across the board.
With their third record, I'm Bad Now, Canadian indie quartet Nap Eyes complete what they refer to as an informal trilogy of releases that began with 2014's Whine of the Mystic. That curious debut introduced the vision of frontman and chief songwriter Nigel Chapman, whose cerebral introspections were woven into a lazy lattice of sparsely arranged, low-key rock that drew inevitable Velvet Underground comparisons. The philosophical songcraft and the members' musical chemistry deepened with 2016's finely honed sequel, Thought Rock Fish Scale, further establishing their singularity.
Nap Eyes' 2016 sophomore record, Thought Rock Fish Scale, was a true sleeper. The band's delicate songcraft and melodic brilliance was couched in a lethargic and meditative atmosphere that was easy to dismiss, but just as easy to become enthralled with. Moving forward from that meandering pace, I'm Bad Now finds Nap Eyes picking up their feet a bit, without sacrificing the subtle psychedelia that makes their songs so enticing.
Partway through Nap Eyes' third record, singer/guitarist Nigel Chapman reveals what he likes to listen to when he's out for a stroll--and it's not the Velvet Underground or Pavement or Yo La Tengo or any of the other archetypal indie rock bands to which his Nova Scotian quartet are routinely compared. Sure, Chapman still very much sounds like a Lou Reed who hails from Canada's East Coast instead of New York's East Village, but at the moment his interests seem to lay far beyond the rock canon. On the campfire-ready acoustic reprieve "Follow Me Down," he sings, "Went out walking with my headphones on, classical Indian raga, 20 minutes long/Then I listened to old American folk song/Little bit shorter, still a lot going on.
Some records don't make sense until you hear them in a car, at a party, or over an action movie bank robbery. I'm Bad Now is a walking record, in the best way, timed to the rhythm of a stroll to get you out of the damn house. To follow Nap Eyes frontman Nigel Chapman's sardonic advice for wasting your time away, take all those things you hate and dig them "deep out from your day and never let them go/even if your friend tells a good joke/and you don't even smile/even if it feels natural.
Halifax has been in the news a lot recently. While its UK counterpart has found itself favourably described as the northern equivalent of London's Shoreditch, its Canadian sister continues to thrive as the cultural and economic hub (and capital) of Nova Scotia. It can also boast an impressive musical lineage including the likes of Sloan, April Wine and Wintersleep among an impressive list of acts past and present.
Nap Eyes songs are about thinking, or on occasion, thinking about what other people might be thinking. Sometimes the thoughts come through the haze of landing back in the apartment, pen to notebook after a night's mild drunk. More often it's easiest to picture front man Nigel Champan walking around his home base of Halifax on a foggy day, putting off whatever pays the bills.