Happy release day to Nap Eyes! The reviews of Thought Rock Fish Scale are coming in, and they are uniformly glowing, including a thoughtful 8.0 review from Pitchfork‘s Stuart Berman, a 4/5 from MOJO, a 4/5 from The Irish Times, and an 8/10 from Drowned in Sound.
Also worth reading is this excellent profile of songwriter Nigel Chapman for the band’s hometown Halifax paper The Coast, written by Adria Young (the above photo of Nigel in his natural environment is theirs.)
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8.0. Chapman has one of those voices that feels immediately familiar, yet is bracingly distinct… one the most intriguingly idiosyncratic lyricists in Canadian indie rock this side of Dan Bejar. Even in its quietest moments, Thought Rock Fish Scale is an album brimming with passion and protest. It finds confidence in humility, power in relaxation. Its lethargy feels like an act of defiance against the hyper-speed pace of modern life. Its pledges of sobriety and good health constitute affronts to peer-pressured intoxication and food-blogged indulgence. And its purity of vision amounts to a declaration of war against a culture that encourages mass distraction. Let this record be the first step in your rehabilitation from information overload.
– Stuart Berman, Pitchfork
The year’s first classic indie rock album. For my money, Nap Eyes are one of the best rock bands in business today, handily spanning the space between Bob Dylan and The Microphones. Nigel Chapman’s songwriting grips like the best of them. A timeless release, already.
– Duncan Cooper, The FADER
An existentialist indie pop daydream. Wonderfully and beautifully frigid — frozen in time and place, despite its humid surroundings.
– Colin Joyce, SPIN
Chapman has been compared to Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman, among other singularly compelling singer-songwriters. If tracks like “Roll It,” “Mixer,” and the seven-minute epic “Lion in Chains” are any indication, this album is only going to cement Chapman’s status as one of the most fascinating songwriters we have today.
4/5 stars. It’s almost a relief to hear the stoical guitar-bass-drums simplicity of this quartet. Concise, understated alt rock with cryptic, literate lyrics for Go-Betweens/Bill Callahan fans.
Nap Eyes are one of my favourite bands in Canada. Four cats from Halifax recording lazy, rangey rock’n’roll – “Roll It” is a rocker’s stoned jam but it’s also epistemology – a marauding dissertation on what we know and how we know it. Nigel Chapman sings his lines with a certain distance, Father Superior and his riddles, but the band is affectless, profane, casual as a bowl of cereal. I figure this is usually the way with gurus: well-spoken long-hairs and their roving, loyal, merry men.
– Sean Michaels, The Globe and Mail
It’s easy to imagine Lou Reed’s ghost giving Nap Eyes his gruffly benevolent blessing, impressed by their unvarnished diarizing in lean, art-pop songs that channel his spirit. But along with kitchen-sink detail, there’s real poignancy in the Canadians’ second set. Astutely played, instant charmers.
– Sharon O’Connell, Uncut
4/5 stars. There is a down-at-heel yet often sublime feel from Nap Eyes’ second album. Of the album’s eight tracks, it’s almost impossible to single out one that doesn’t hit the singular mark between structured and untidy, but the likes of “Stargazer,” “Lion in Chains,” and “Trust” nonetheless manage to convey the vagaries of control without in any way spoiling the end result. Reckless? Wistful? A little bit skewed? All these and more.
– Tony Clayton-Lea, The Irish Times
Incredible album. Nap Eyes is a great band that will remind you of a lot of great things. Songwriter and guitarist Nigel Chapman, a biochemist by day, is the kind of preternaturally smart lyricist who inspires comparison to Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and Van Morrison, and the many odd musicians who fall between. There’s a lot of good connections one could make listening to something so clearly labored over but also seemingly effortless. If you haven’t been listening to much rock music lately, Nap Eyes will make you remember why rock’s good in the first place.
– The FADER
8/10. One of the most enjoyable and insightful albums released this year so far. It sounds like Pavement, circa-1999, playing a stripped down Stax Records house band slow jam… like Lou Reed hanging out with Guided by Voices. As you get more and more inebriated it all starts to make sense, making it the best thing you’ve ever heard!
– Nick Roseblade, Drowned in Sound
The effect is something akin to the talking blues antics of Mark Kozelek‘s last few albums, but with a lot more self-control and no references to crab cakes or Ben Gibbard. So it goes for the rest of Thought Rock Fish Scale as well, with Chapman poring over his existential fears and failings as a human while he and the rest of the band rumble along quietly in the background invoking the spirits of Flying Nun Records and Sarah Records’ past.
– Robert Ham, Paste
34 minutes of soothing acoustic melodies that will transport you from the cold and rain of our bleak isles to the warmth to the warmth of a Nova Scotian log cabin in the space of a single listen.
– The ShortList (UK)
Some of the Velvet Underground’s best moments came with the volume turned way down, and that’s precisely where Nap Eyes picks up the story. Nap Eyes hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and it’s easy to hear that rainy chill in its music. “Mixer”–from Thought Rock Fish Scale, out February 5 via Paradise of Bachelors–is all atmosphere. You’re looking over Chapman’s shoulder as the room comes into view.
– Art Levy, KUTX
Chapman’s questions are heart-wrenching in their simplicity. Get ready to get a little existential.
– Collin Robinson, Stereogum