If you’re going to make a catchy rock record, you may as well go all out. Though Naked Giants don’t always break new ground on Sluff, they truly let their personalities shine through again and again. Thanks to their ambitious range of sonic experimentation, the record is also one that never feels dull.
The blazing fire that Naked Giants bring to their record is immediately clear through guitars and tumbling drum lines of “Dead/Alien.” Even in all their vicious playing however it’s their ability to make their vocal hooks just as addictive and memorable that puts the record over the top. That doesn’t mean they’re without strong sonic experimentation, as the funk and outlandish feedback on “We’re Alone” shows again and again. There’s also a seemingly boundless and bouncy energy on many of these tracks that ties all the songs into a nice package that just works no matter which way you look at it.
Though they can be much more predictable on something like “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows)” it doesn’t hold their music back from being a joy to listen to. As they keep this one short and to the point, the ambitious little vocal touches and flurry of drums at the end helps make the song worth its time. Goofy rhythms make “TV” feel like a unique beast on the record, as it dives into a weird beat and makes it something fiery. Naked Giants even jump into explosive punk-rock breaks to shred through the middle of the track, although they don’t necessarily warrant the track’s excessive length.
“Slow Dance II” is a fun and silly pastiche of vintage slow-dance rock from the 50s, with the right amount of personal emotions and unusual dynamics to make it fresh. Luckily before the track becomes a predictable slog, they start to infect it with enough punk to give it a riotous energy and gut-wrenching emotion in equal doses. The breakneck rush of “Slide” make its unusual tones all the more worrying and vicious, to create a track that’s seething with frantic anxiety. When they finally release it all in choruses full of Wavves-like harmonies, there’s an undeniable smirk that they hold onto until the track’s end.
So much weight goes into every riff of “SLUFF” that it’s often easy to get lost in any chorus regardless of how familiar they may sound. As much as you’ve heard this song before, Naked Giants really put a lot of their own passionate character into it to keep it fresh. “Goldfish I” crawls out slowly as a dreamy and sunny interlude, full of massive drum sounds and a guitar lick that’s too sweet to forget. Its lush harmonies and distorted vocals amp up the otherworldly energy to set the tone perfectly for what’s to come.
As you hit the raucous energy of “Goldfish II” it hits a dance-rock high and totally lets loose like nothing else on the record. Even though it seems like they should’ve tied the whole thing into one track, both songs really hit with enough of their own character to be a great journey in and of themselves. Despite the hilarious titling, “Dat Boi” hits hard and mixes more dynamics than they do in most of the record. Surprising as it may that Naked Giants keep so much of the song drenched in effects, they use the opportunity to really try a bit of everything.
This ambitious use of sound is what makes something like “Easy Eating” so endlessly exciting, as they provide just as much energy in relentless feedback as they do in their vocals, and once again tighten it all up to avoid dragging on. Naked Gaints’ most unusual writing comes on the folksy tones of “Shredded Again” which meditates on its main hook with excited joy. Though it never moves past this hook, they bring enough fun to it to keep you from caring.
Words by Owen Maxwell