There’s something about being youthful that is resoundingly acceptable. Beets’ frontman Juan Wauters diverges from the garage stuff and tips his head to a older, nostalgic time. Each song on N.A.P. North American Poetry is a fragile gem of indie pop that is always cheery and light. Never does the album take a turn inward or really anywhere, but Wauters manages to keep it interesting from start to finish. There are some clever songs that have melodies that’ll be stuck in your head or remind you of some other songs to infect your brain for the moment. But it’s this retrospective feeling that keeps this album afloat and smiling.
All the tracks on N.A.P. are concise acoustic moments that transpire to spend 30 minutes of your time relaxing and calm. None of the songs are emotionally tinged. Your simply listening and nodding your head to the implied rhythm brought to you. In a world where we’re listening to glitchy, existential collages or noisy, cacophonic pieces, Wauters crafts simplistic, accessible tunes that avoid any difficulty or even thought. It’s worth noting how natural each piece is. Folky acoustic fun is still fun, even if it is mindbogglingly primitive.
Juan Wauters’ “Water”
Not even 30 minutes long, this album is brief. None of the tracks manage to really stand out against each other, but that’s not a complete complaint. This album is very much like a selection of poems put to music with a melody and possibly some refrains/choruses exist. Two tracks on the second side feature singer Carmelle, which helps add some variety to this one-dimensional album. Wauters belts out choruses while Carmelle swoons some interesting verses, especially on “Breathing.” As diminutive as this album is, you’ll be wishing for more, but that’s not necessarily the contextual praise that is mostly associated with the phrase. It’s simply just too short. You’re seeing snapshots of possible excellence, and you’re left guessing to wonder if it’d be good if longer. These two tracks featuring Carmelle especially adhere to the “left wanting more” category.
But what portion you get is interesting. Wauters does manage to allow a few melodies to stick and be catchy for a fleeting moment. Opener “Hip You To Something” is the album’s best track, as it shows Wauters’ best vocal performance. “Sanity Or Not” busies things up for a bit by adding a driving beat. There are a few tracks (“Escucho Mucho”, “Ay Ay Ay”) that Wauters sings in his native tongue. It adds another flavor to the mix and manages to bother your mind by asking, “If he added more of this and that and this, this would be better…” but you don’t get more of this and that. It’s a really glaring problem for something that stays the course like a boring afternoon drive in the summer or a shift at work.
To really spit the facts, Wauters does good with what is here. But you could really do better by spicing things up and adding just a few more styles or range to tracks. There’s not much going on in 80% of these songs other than a guitar, a quiet beat, and two vocal tracks harmonizing. They all sound very similar, and they manage to link together successively in a good transition, but when the album adds depth, it gets better. The changes to the formula make songs better and Wauters shows he can write a feelgood song over and over, but he shows no range throughout, save a few moments. Wauters writes a good album, but he also shows a lack of great.
Written by Dylan Tracy
OurVinyl | Contributor