There is something comfortably cozy about the group One Hour Naps. Well firstly, they are literally titled from the concept of taking a deserving sleep break in the middle of the day. Sonically, the band illuminates the room with a heartwarming and, well, cozy sound of pop-folk tropes and jangly acoustic ditties. You can hear a whole mess of diversity and brazen escapades in their working palette. Their full-length album, Encrypted Code, sounds like the title for a concept album about a computer glitch which must be, well, unencrypted, to stop it before it destroys the world. Yet ‘Encrypted Code’ is far less technological and far breezier than any computer code. Each song is seemingly coated in that autumn coloration that fills the sky. But unlike the autumn skyline, which stretches to the horizon on both sides of the sky, ‘Encrypted Code’ remains comfortable and focused in one small place- perhaps a single leaf fallen from a powerful and mighty evergreen tree. With such an autumn sound, you would expect the band to derive from the wild hills of the Rocky’s or Montana or… The group is from Chicago. Just like Kurt Vonnegut says when he hears something that shouldn’t make sense, but makes perfect sense once you think about it- so it goes.
The songs herein are all under the pop-single timeframe of 3 minutes, more akin to classic punk hardcore than upbeat indie pop. There is one exception. The song ‘Angelina’ stretches over 5 minutes and is alarmingly one of the most compassionate and endearing songs on the album.
Factory by the Sea offers flair and sensational Beatles-esque parading over 2 minutes, and remains positively addictive. Outer Space uses some slightly abrasive background effects, making for a weird unscratchable itch on the side of your brain. It isn’t necessarily the album’s greatest moment, but it sure is something. Michigan ends up the most country-ish song on the album. Lyrically, it’s about love. And musically, it is clearly more country that anything preceding or following, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Devil Be Damned is crunchier and louder, and remains one of the most interesting songs on the album.
Artists really only have a few options.
Option 1: Artists indulge, soak in their momentum and enthusiasm in favor of overdrawn and over-excised music that becomes overbearing in its own innate seriousness- and just ok at best.
Option 2: They contain all the eccentricity necessary to stand out on the end of the rope all alone. Perhaps writing a novel in all vowels. Perhaps standing next to the band who made their drummer excise his skills on trashcan lids and who hired a man dressed as a beaver to growl into the mic and perform upside down.
Option 3: Hold key influences in hand and craft something memorable but openly following a well-traveled course without having to overindulge. ‘One Hour Naps’ have seemingly ignored all the options and devised their own. They carved a new path, one that doesn’t rely on eccentric nonsense to stick out, and one that doesn’t overstay its welcome or take art too seriously- an option that doesn’t need to try too hard to welcome fans and “break” their sound. In many ways, ‘One Hour Naps’ really aren’t trying to write music at all. The songs come off so naturally and simplistically, sonically, you can either listen or not. They don’t care. Just try to stick around for 30 minutes and listen to the music, and see if you take life as serious as you did before. Maybe that’s the code.
Encrypted within is the code that life is about trying to not try, and making it all seem so fun and light in the process. Encrypted Code makes you smile, and not question why- or why it matters. That’s the best we can ever get, and in 2 minutes bursts equaling 30 minutes, that’s a lot more than you could get from a 30-minute catnap. ‘One Hour Naps’ aren’t asking for anything. They are just happy you stayed.