Given his longtime status as frontman of anachronistic Queens anti-folks, the Beets, plenty of expectations come along with Juan Wauters’ solo debut, N.A.P. North American Poetry: endearingly lo-fi sonics; sometimes-snarky, sometimes-sincere lyrics; and a joyously disheveled, outsider/immigrant view of life in New York City.
“Let Me Hip You to Something” wears its big-city smirk with pride (“When you breathe, you mess with my air”), while playful guest vocals from Carmelle Safdie on “Breathing” and “How Do They All Do” revive the dissonant drone that the Velvet Underground and Nico perfected in the early ’70s. In another feat of timelessness, “Ay Ay Ay” sounds beamed-in from some lost psychedelic world of South American cowboys. To the uninitiated, breezy jams like “Sanity or Not” and “Goo” might sound casually tossed off; “Woke Up Feeling Like Sleeping” might even be the best hungover campfire jam the Black Lips never wrote. Exuding such natural charm doesn’t come easy, of course. But since N.A.P. North American Poetry collects songs recorded between 2010 and 2012, we can only hope that Juan Wauters’ future solo work brings his formidable talents into clearer focus.
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