[Album Review] Nap Eyes- Thought Rock Fish Scale
3.5Rating
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napeyes

Release Date: February 5th, 2015
Label: You’ve Changed/Paradise of Bachelors

Let’s not dance around it; Nigel Chapman does sound like Lou Reed. A lot. The timbre of his voice and the pronunciation of words. Even in the way that it sounds like a conversation even though he’s actually singing. This is not a problem, just a happy coincidence. What counts is what Chapman does with his vocals talents, and it happens to be something impressive.

Despite their relative success (in humble Canadian terms) Nap Eyes are not splashy and they are far from pretentious. The music is down-home, folk-based with a touch of country. The quality shines through in the subtle touches; the gentle build up on “Stargazer” (drums, then bass, then guitar) or the carefully timed splashes of pedal steel on “Alaskan Shake”. But the band’s music alone does not set them apart. No, Chapman is more than just the band’s front man; he is the focal point and his lyricism and vocal delivery make ‘Thought Rock Fish Scale’ something special.

Chapman speaks to us directly with straightforward language that doesn’t sound rehearsed. It’s like a one-sided chat. With our guard down it seems like he is telling us something profound, even when the words are pretty mundane (“At the sink, I wait for the cold water/I burned myself here one too many times“). In this way, he transforms light country-folk tunes like “Click Clack” and “Stargazer” into something with more gravitas. His poet/singer approach works best on the more lethargic tunes like “Lion in Chains” where Chapman spins his tale like a snake-charmer and lulls us into mesmerized bliss.

The album is not a complete masterpiece. “Trust”, for example, is a bit of a clunker as Chapman really doesn’t have much to say but he keeps insisting “Trust, trust me” and the repetition gets annoying. However, there are enough moments of magic to set Nap Eyes apart from the indie folk crowd and to keep you coming back for another listen.