When we first brought you the news of a brand new album from Nap Eyes things were a lot calmer in the world. Luckily, the new album Snapshot of a Beginner, provides a safe, yet continuously shifting, refuge from the outside world. The band’s highly improvised new record further ensures the group’s title as cult classic.
It’s a title we bestow with the utmost pleasure and respect. Nap Eyes have managed to carve out a niche in the market through a collection of honest and raw releases that use the simplicity of lo-fi arrangement to bring to the light far more complex poetry. On Snapshot of a Beginner, that’s all changed.
On the new record, it feels as though the band have stepped up a gear. They’ve moved into unchartered territory and as well as bolstering their arrangements, providing a far deeper and more luscious sound than before, they’ve employed a unique improvisation technique for recording nearly all the tracks on the album.
Stand out tracks are ‘Mark Zuckerberg’, ‘So Tired’ and ‘Mystery Calling’, all released as singles prior to the LP release today. But there are also notable moments of pleasure across the album, the guitar solo in ‘If You Were In Prison’ is a particular highlight as is the laid-back ‘Dark Link’, all of them beating with same pulse Nap Eyes have always employed.
With that in mind, however, the album is the mark of a band who have further established themselves as musicians. Honing their craft and cementing their songwriting ability but still imbuing it with the energy of old. What’s great, is that down to the improvisation of the tracks, they never feel stilted by perfectionism.
Nearly all of the song on the new record are trimmed down to what you hear in your headphones from a 20-minute writing session without guitars or vocals. Each member — drummer Seamus Dalton, bassist Josh Salter and guitarist Brad Loughead — then plays a crucial role in the development of the track, composing around the unique structure and propelling the track where it needs to be.
To record, the band went to The National’s nuevo-legendary upstate NY Long Pond Studio, working with producers Jonathan Low (Big Red Machine, The National) and James Elkington (Steve Gunn, Joan Shelley), the latter of whom also did pre-production arrangement work with the band.
Sometimes albums come around at the right moment, sometimes they ‘pop’. This is surely the perfect culmination of Nap Eyes creating one of their most richly dense and inherently intriguing records to date and the time we all have now to fully enjoy it. The album may have been recorded on the fly but the weight of it’s landing is like a dive-bombing elephant. Surely, it’s enough to make a mainstream splash.
You can listen to Snapshot of a Beginner below: