Nap Eyes makes crooked, literate guitar pop refracted through the gray Nova Scotian rain.
Their songs are equal parts shambling and sophisticated, with one eye on the dirt and one trained on the starry firmament, inhabiting a skewed world where odes to NASA, brain protein aggregation, and the Earth's magnetic field coexist easily with lyrics about insomnia, self-reproach, and drinking too much.
In the world of Nap Eyes, workaday details punctuate (and puncture) cosmic concerns, as enigmatic songwriter, singer, and rhythm guitarist Nigel Chapman wrestles with air and angels, struggling (and often failing) to reconcile the Romantic rifts, both real and imagined, that define our lives: between chaos and order; solipsism and fellowship; the anxiety of social (dis)orders both big and small; and the various intersections and oppositions of religion, art, and science.
I'm Bad Now, the most transparent and personal Nap Eyes album to date, constitutes the third chapter of an implicit, informal trilogy that includes Whine of the Mystic (2014, reissued in 2015) and Thought Rock Fish Scale (2016), which was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize.
While Nigel composes Nap Eyes songs in their inchoate form at home in Halifax, Brad Loughead (lead guitar), Josh Salter (bass), and Seamus Dalton (drums), who live a twelve-hour drive away in Montreal, augment and arrange them, transubstantiating his skeletal, ruminative wafers into discourses that aim to transcend what Nigel, in the song "Dull Me Line," self-laceratingly deems "bored and lazy disappointment art." The band provides ballast and bowsprit to Nigel's cosmical mind.
The nautical metaphor is not just whimsy: Nap Eyes are all Nova Scotians by raising and temperament, acclimated to life on an Atlantic peninsula linked narrowly to the rest of North America.
Nap Eyes songs resonate because they manage to balance delicately the cryptic and the quotidian, rendering a compellingly honest equivocation without evasiveness, a relatable ambivalence without apathy.
As a result, both lyrically and musically, their music articulates the urgency of youthful grace.
It's the sound of being young and alive in the city, a tenuous and impermanent counterpoise of recklessness and anxiety, archness and earnestness.
So let fly the cosmical mind into the gray night, dear listener.