Presented by Spirit of 68 Nap Eyes
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. The new songs position Nigelas a “cosmical mind” in the tradition of Olaf Stapledon’s philosophical science fiction novel Star Maker (1937), an existential detective who interrogates social, psychological, and spiritual milieus for clues about the elusive nature of knowledge. In this role, the song-persona, if not the songwriter, resembles a monkish, beatifically stoned Columbo, vigilantly squinty-eyed in his metaphysical quest for self-understanding, despite ostensible bumbling on the physical plane. The technology is essentially catechismal, taking the form of questions and answers posed to assert faith, or to defend doubt. The lyrics traffic in second-person address, but the “you” is often Nigel himself, a gaze inward and not, as in the “you” of most romantic pop songs, directed outward to others. (See “I’m Bad,” the almost-title track that deletes the temporal anchor of “now,” which employs second person self-address in a country-rockinclined tune that is stylistically different than anything the band has attempted, as well as mockingly self-flagellating. “You’re so dumb,” Nigel sings to himself, diagnosing his delusions.