Nap Eyes - Snapshot of a Beginner Music Album Reviews

Gathering newfound lyrical confidence, the Halifax slack-rockers trade the sparseness of their early material for gentle guitar chords and gleaming Mellotron harmonies.

Nigel Chapman spends a lot of time singing about his own inability to take action. Whether seated on the couch at a party or pacing the desolate streets of his hometown, the Nap Eyes frontman habitually falls back on restless indecision, spinning stories about his own passivity in the face of existential concerns. The best Nap Eyes songs offer a subtle shift to the active tense amid this anxious, wine-drunk detachment, with sparse, lo-fi arrangements that split the difference between the Velvet Underground and their many ’90s alt-rock descendants (Pavement, Sebadoh, Yo La Tengo). On Snapshot of a Beginner, their fourth studio album, Nap Eyes build on these moments of solipsistic brilliance, pairing a newfound lyrical confidence with sharper, more intentional arrangements that lend the project fresh weight.


In the process, Nap Eyes take risks that would have once seemed at odds with their reputation for starry-eyed introversion. “Mark Zuckerberg,” a humble ode to the awkward tech overlord, bypasses the armchair critique of social media to cast the Facebook founder as a kind of folkloric legend: “Is Mark Zuckerberg a ghost? Maybe, maybe/Where are his hands? And why don’t you ever see them in public?” Chapman’s voice bears a startling resemblance to Soft Bulletin-era Wayne Coyne, while the band trades the sparseness of their early material for gentle guitar chords and gleaming Mellotron harmonies.

Chapman’s songwriting, long the driving force of the project, finds new footing in the album’s emphasis on arrangement. “Primordial Soup” introduces a synthesizer into the mix as Chapman rehashes a familiar subtext of Darwinian evolution: If the entire universe is the result of a “billion simple molecules” combined in precisely the right way, where does that leave God? As clean guitar loops and synth pads give way to thundering distortion, Chapman inches closer toward a definitive answer. “Might feel frustrated but does it mean anything?/Might feel lonely but what’s the meaning?” he shouts. It’s a sentiment familiar to anyone who’s struggled to capture an emotion in words, yet one that’s representative of Chapman’s approach to songwriting, which finds an implicit universalism in these moments of clumsy ineptitude.

Where earlier albums achieved this feeling through lyrics alone, Snapshot of a Beginner incorporates songwriting into a wider vision, one that feels truer to the band’s intentions. “Fool Thinking Ways” pulls the steady acoustic strum of earlier songs like “Boats Appear” into a hushed meditation that waxes and wanes with Chapman’s spirit, rising with the excitement of a breakthrough before deflating at the recognition of his own subconscious habits. “And that’s when it happened to me/That the change in my thinking set me free,” he sings, guitars soaring higher to match his mood.

Like much of the album, the track feels like a concerted response to the occasional aimlessness of Nap Eyes’ previous material, even as they try—and mostly succeed in—maintaining the same lightness. “But now I think again/Because I’m sick of making my process the subject of my songs,” Chapman sings on album closer “Though I Wish I Could.” Yet for every moment of heady introspection, there’s an equal and opposite song about Zuckerberg or The Legend of Zelda, punctuating an album otherwise dominated by Chapman’s inner monologue with moments of genuine charm. It’s a testament to his songwriting versatility and a new benchmark for Nap Eyes at their most ambitious.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Nap Eyes - Snapshot of a Beginner Music Album Reviews Nap Eyes - Snapshot of a Beginner Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Sunday, April 05, 2020 Rating: 5

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