I’ve gotten a lot of pleasure out of the way Nap Eyes singer Nigel Chapman stretches his lyrics across bar lines, elongating certain words with extra syllables—in fact, I usually like his delivery more than the words themselves, which feel a bit too interior and elliptical for me to figure out quite what he’s trying to say. Fortunately, Nap Eyes’ third and best album, Now I’m Bad (Paradise of Bachelors), doesn’t rely on the content of his lyrics—the melodies to which they’re set and the band’s nimble, deceptively simple attack have never been stronger or more seductive.
Once again the Halifax four-piece conjure the strummy sound of early Velvet Underground or Modern Lovers, but Chapman has really come into his own as a singer. His wobbly intonation and off-kilter rhythmic sensibility create a beguiling tension with the grooves rolling behind his sweet-toned voice—he’s started reminding me of Peter Perrett of the Only Ones. As on previous records, Nap Eyes play with great restraint, their strolling rhythms beckoning us along rather than forcing us into submission.
Guitarist Brad Loughead decorates “Follow Me Down” with waves of sculptural feedback that lurk in the background, deftly harnessed and never stealing the show. Elsewhere the lead guitar provides a sort of commentary to the lyrics, answering certain verses with succinct, tuneful solos seasoned with twangy accents and just the right amount of bite. In fact, apart from Chapman’s sometimes muddled lyrics, Now I’m Bad is all about clarity.
Nap Eyes play Friday night at Schubas. Below you can check out one of the songs that’s taken up residence in my head of late: album opener “Every Time the Feeling.”
Toshimaru Nakamura & Martin Taxt, Pan on Fire (Monotype)
John Butcher, Bell Trove Spools (Northern Spy)
Matchess, The Rafter (Monofonus Press)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers (Constellation)
Gerard Pape, Ascension to Purgatory (Mode)