By Matty Hume, March 5 2018 —
The magic of I’m Bad Now, the third album from Halifax’s soft post-punks Nap Eyes, is that it plucks the glory days of escapist protest-folk straight out of the ‘70s and right into your modern world. Before you even hit play, simply looking at the illuminated medieval manuscript-style lettering over a coastal Canadian landscape on the album’s cover feels out of place and out of time.
The lyrics of frontman Nigel Chapman drive the soft optimistic melodies over the course of just over 45 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time for a listener to chew through an album in one sitting. And you absolutely should.
Chapman’s lyrics often centre around finding meaning, whether that be for yourself or any other creature or rock in the cosmos. It’s wonderfully thoughtful poetry but what will really keep your headphones on is the soundscape behind it. “I’m Bad” is the classic-rock ballad 2018 never knew it needed, ultimately culminating to a driving maraca shake keeping pace for a simple, upbeat guitar solo. After a brief pause, “Judgement” kicks off with a bass groove that feels like your favourite mid-century rock band coming out of their psychedelic phase. Often steady and downtempo, I’m Bad Now keeps every sound soft through jangly riffs and consistent toe-tapping rhythms.
Chapman’s vocals are certainly still a draw. In “Dull Me Line,” he describes their work as “bored and lazy disappointment art.” While the description certainly fits the mood, Chapman’s lyrics and timing coupled with the band’s clean sonics are too fully-formed and deliberate for that to be the truth.
I’m Bad Now is one of the most laid-back albums in recent memory without ever falling into the trap of being too sleepy. For example, “Roses” stays within the lackadaisical formula but keeps a quick pace that may just trick you into dancing. Even though most of the album evokes nostalgia for days your parents were barely alive for, songs like “You Like to Joke Around with Me” find clear influence in modern lo-fi song writers like Kurt Vile — Chapman’s voice keeps your mind active as a bassline stays mellow underneath echoey guitar chords.
By the end of closing track “Boats Appear,” I’m Bad Now delivers the feeling that your craziest days are behind you and that it’s a good time to figure out who you are. It’s an excellent record for headphones in a dimly lit room after a long day and perfect for campfires and stargazing with your closest pals. If you’ve ever reminisced about simpler times, whatever those may be for you, I’m Bad Now already has a place in your heart.