Moments throughout Napoo’s charming self-titled debut indicate a band that’s trying to say something—something big, something important, something deep. “All those people struggling / depending on their next day / To get some time off / Do they really know where it ends? / It’s hard to believe in a better place for us all,” sings Jan Hatlemark in a pointed comment on the futility of modern success on “Killing for Comfort”. “Control of nature is a phrase conceived in arrogance,” he sings in “People vs. Themselves”, and we nod our heads grimly as we think about oil spills and hurricanes. Yet, despite an obvious wish to by the band to convey ideas and thoughts that touch in a wide range of concepts and emotions, it’s hard to think of Napoo as anything other than a light, fluffy summer album. This is simply because it sounds like a light, fluffy summer album. Predominantly anchored by sunny acoustic guitars, though occasionally punctuated by energetic electrics, and featuring the constant male/female duet vocal style that could have defined “twee” a few years ago, Napoo sounds very, well, nice. It’s a pleasant 38 minutes, it’s a little bit of sunshine amidst circling clouds, and that’s fine, even if it’s not quite what Hatlemark was necessarily going for when he wrote the lyrics. Perhaps letting the words unassumingly float by wasn’t the best delivery approach if he really wanted to be heard.
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// Notes from the Road
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