N.A.P. North American Poetry is a collection of songs recorded by the Beets’ frontman, Juan Wauters, between 2010 and 2012. It represents an only-slight turn away from the band’s garage-pop, towards something more stripped down, folkier, but also representing the same basic pop constructs and energy. The difference here is that you can see Wauters up front and center, not buried in the band’s fuzz or attitude. When he stretches out into new sounds, like the wobbling finger-picking of “Water”, or the Beach Boys-like layers of haze on “Woke Up Feeling Like Sleeping”, the change here is sweet and welcome, a more approachable take on Wauters’ aesthetic.
The album seems interested in the way this kind of music can express the personal, as on “Sanity or Not”, but Wauters’ delivery is still better suited to the attitude of the Beets’ records. “Sanity or Not” or opener “Let Me Hip You to Something” feel more like studies of folk-pop than personal declarations. They’re catchy, but get caught on the deadpan delivery and dashed-off nature of the music. This album is surely a pleasant listen all the way through, but the moments that stick are when we forget Wauters’ ties to his band, and there could be more of those moments here.