Minimalist rock n’ rollers of Halifiax are back with their sophomore record, Thought Rock Fish Scale. The record follows their debut release, Whine of the Mystic. The new album is a collection of gentle and thoughtful tracks which perfectly capture songwriter and guitarist, Nigel Chapman’s, style. The lackadaisical quality of Nap Eyes’ instrumentals is the perfect vessel for Chapman’s equally as easy-going voice. The casual sound is a comforting mode of delivery for what sometimes are blunt, frank and downright depressing truths. Chapman distills the chaos of the mind and the realities of life into simple lyrics which at superficial listen, could mean nothing. But, for those listeners who like to think while they listen, there is an abyss of meaning to each and every word, which are strung together with great care.
The album was recorded on an old TEAC four-track 1/4” tape recorder in May of 2014 in a small town in Nova Scotia called Pictou. The finished product is eight honest tracks derived from four honest days of recording.
The album opens with one of my personal favorites on the record, “Mixer.” It begins with temperate rhythms and simple percussion. Chapman sings about being a wallflower at a “mixer on a Friday night” and what goes through your mind when you’re left to stew over your thoughts alone amongst many, more socially inclined strangers.
So I sat against the wall and leaned as hard as I could into it
Then I thought about my Jesus and meditation
The things I have I don’t need and the things I want, what’s the good in them?
This theme of introspection carries on through the record as stories of family, friends, work and life in general, unfold.
The record displays minimalist rock at its best: simple instrumentals showcasing raw talent and genuine musicianship.
The following track, “Stargazer”, is an excellent example of Chapman’s self-reflective lyricism. Amidst modest guitar plucking, straightforward bass and rolling rhythms Chapman sings:
Got to be clean and try to control my body,
Because nobody else going to.
I don’t think twice when I do something nice,
But I don’t do things like that very much.
‘Cause if you go ‘round trying to please everybody
It only becomes your crutch.
Within these lyrics are honest values and standards. Things our parents may have told us when we were kids but we don’t truly learn until we’re off on our own, experiencing life alone.
“Don’t Be Right” is a bright and catchy track that features beachy guitar and clocks in at just over two minutes. Within the song lies simple advice:
Don’t be right, it isn’t good for you.
You may not realize it but it’s not!
Following is “Click Clack.” This track reveals the depressing truth and simultaneous beauty of drinking alcohol. There is a blanket of happiness that alcohol can temporarily lay over reality. All of this is delivered to the listener in the most cavalier of ways because this is the way it is. Plain and simple. We all do this. We all lose ourselves within ourselves.
Sometimes drinking I feel so happy but then I can’t remember why.
I feel sad all over again.
Thought Rock Fish Scale is an album that artistically and candidly combines the sad actualities of being a human with the visceral beauties associated with life. It’s a subtle-sounding record that comes across in an uncluttered and austere fashion.