On their debut album Whine of the Mystic, Canadian quartet Nap Eyes straddle the line between scrappy, dusty Americana songcraft and rambling Velvet Underground-inspired indie rock built on flashing guitars and songwriter Nigel Chapman's drawled vocals. Alternating between long, happily meandering tracks that allow the band to stretch out and the guitars to dance around each other and short, snappy songs that deliver neat, easy-to-digest hooks, the album really takes off when they blend the two approaches into something murkily catchy. The opening "Dark Creedence" starts the album off on a high point with darkly chiming guitars, insistent drums, and a vocal melody that twists and turns; "No Fear of Hellfire" ends it with a steadily driving beat, tremolo-heavy guitars, and some laconically appealing singing from Chapman. His voice throughout the record is one of the strong points, delivering his words with a knowing, slightly fuzzy feel as if he were a professor giving a lecture in front of a class. The approach is usually a good one; it only falters when the music falls back on musical clichés, like it does on the country ballad "Make Something." It really works on the uptempo tracks, where it sounds like he's scrambling to keep up with the galloping rhythms and whip-smart guitars. Check "No Man Needs to Care" for a fine example of this. Whine of the Mystic is a fine debut from a band with a lot of ideas and a songwriter with a unique point of view. A little fine-tuning here and a couple tweaks there and the follow-up might really be something special. Until then, Nap Eyes are solidly promising and that's a good start.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra