Sometimes when we get tired of creating something whether that be in writing, music, or visual art, it’s good to take a step back and try to find what it was that made you want to create in the first place. In fewer words, We’re talking about getting back to basics. The concept can come via a few different principles, maybe taking the route of minimalism in one’s work, or emulating others’ work before striking out with a new idea. For Nova Scotia’s Nap Eyes, their third and most recent release, I’m Bad Now, portrays a band coming into their own sound in the most natural way possible. After eerily sounding similar to the Velvet Underground on their prior two records, I’m Bad Now sounds like the first album by the Halifax quartet. In a way it is; it’s their first release on Jagjaguwar Records whose given us albums in the past from the likes of Angel Olsen, Bon Iver, and Sharon Van Etten.
On the subject of the group’s sound on I’m Bad Now, Nap Eyes present their audience with a stripped-down audio aesthetic. Combining garage rock simplicity and folk rock sentiment, the band has found themselves at a comfortable stride. While there are movements within the songs that are airy or spacious, in no way would the listener describe these passages as boring. On the opposite end, the energetic tracks provide listeners the opportunity to really deconstruct all four instruments if they choose to do so. While both guitars, bass, and drums play in striking harmony with each other, the great benefit of having a stripped-down sound is that the audience can hear the communication between layers. There’s also some great guitar solos throughout the LP.
Lyrically speaking, the band’s vocalist Nigel Chapman shines bright on I’m Bad Now. While his presentation is still very Lou Reed-esque, his lyrics are so much more introspective than Reed’s story telling style. On the opening track, Everytime the Feeling, Chapman couldn’t be more on-point when he croons “Oh I can’t tell what’s worse, the meaninglessness, or the negative meaning”. Like Nap Eyes’ music, the lyrics are stripped-down as well dealing with maturity, freedom, and love; things we can all relate to because they never grow old as subject matter. A personal favorite lyric comes during chorus of the second-to-last song White Disciple, “Said the white disciple when he sent for me, it doesn’t matter what anyone was born to be, but your life is pointless ‘less it sets you free”. Eloquently put yet, direct, there isn’t any argument as to what Chapman’s words mean unless this writer is mistaken.
Getting back to basics; in such a complicated world we live in and sometimes create for ourselves, it’s healthy for our creative work to flush everything down the toilet and start over. A lot can be done with little and Nap Eye’s is the perfect instance of such an occurrence. I’m Bad Now, while a collection of thoughtful songs, can be an ode to uncomplicatedness and being gorgeously basic.
Click here to watch the video for I’m Bad.
– By Mike Metcalf