Nap Eyes – Snapshot of a Beginner

Nap Eyes find new corners to explore on their latest album Snapshot of a Beginner. It might be their most focused and uplifting release to date

Album Review by Skye Butchard | 25 Mar 2020
  • Nap Eyes - Snapshot of a Beginner
Album title: Snapshot of a Beginner
Artist: Nap Eyes
Label: Jagjaguwar
Release date: 27 Mar

Less than two years after I'm Bad Now, their last collection of comfy indie rock anthems, Nap Eyes are back to ponder life’s big questions. Where do we come from? Is there any purpose to anything we do? Is Mark Zuckerberg a ghost? And why do we never see his hands in public? You can always rely on them for providing vibe music for those with existential dread, but Snapshot of a Beginner might be their most focused and uplifting release to date. 

We knew we were in for something bolder from the early single named after the world's most awkward social media mogul. The band already had an earworm hook and a kooky song topic, but they weren’t content to simply rely on their charm alone to keep us engaged. The song evolves with tight guitar phrases and galloping drums that shift our focus throughout the song, until it melts away with a surprising and oddly moving coda: 'Transcendence is all around us', we’re told, just moments after we were all chuckling along, making fun of the Zuck. The rest of the record also contains multitudes.

Nigel Chapman’s lyrics are sarcastic without ever being too cynical, introspective while still reaching out to us. Primordial Soup uses the beginning of all life to tie us all together, and to express his nervousness over the fragility of it all. What first reads as a naive tune about togetherness develops into something poignant the more his odd phrases stick with you. The depth and playfulness of his writing is just as heartwarming on Dark Link, which uses The Legend of Zelda as a reflection of his own depressive state. Throughout it all, his band members lift up his amusingly droll tunes with detail and vivid instrumentation. The warm and resonant guitar work here fits his childlike storytelling brilliantly.

The ambition in the group is clear on the seven-minute Real Thoughts, which combines lush psychedelia, punk frustration and crisp folk over its runtime. The band are working with the clearest sound they’ve ever used, and they fill it out wonderfully. The most obvious comparison to their ponderous, lonely songs would be the last album by the late David Berman as Purple Mountains. Many of his fans are still reeling from his tragic passing. Nap Eyes find new corners to explore. They carry the torch, and a wider sense of hope. 

Listen to: Mark Zuckerberg, Real Thoughts, Primordial Soup