After releasing their debut album, Sluff, in 2018, even the softest, newest and least tested critics figured they had Naked Giants’ career path pegged and charted. They figured that a future full of odd, poppy, rocky and fairly danceable music was in the cards for this band, until such time as tastes shifted and then the group would just implode under the weight of their own ambition as they desperately attempt to retain the audience they made. It was an assumption which was easy enough to make – rock is littered with the corpses of bands who have followed such a path – but Naked Giants have done something surprising on their new “green Fuzz” 10” single: they’ve dodged temptation and teased the possibility of producing new music that no one expects.
From the second stylus touches vinyl on the A-side and “Green Fuzz” begins to play, Naked Giants begin to set the tone for this single. There, singer guitarist Grant Mullen’s axe sounds as though it has already been working hard for days as his instrument’s tone just seems to stagger methodically along, sounding a little drunk and a little tired but more surly than anything else. That yowling sound aerates out on its own at first and has the power to make listeners sneer involuntarily on its own, but the point at which drummer Henry LaVallee and bassist Gianni Aiello join in on the fun is when listeners realize they’re not actually sure how deep this rabbit hole goes; it’s then that the song’s movement becomes a little more rabid and wild, and the cherry on top is when Mullen chips in a vocal contribution too. Unlike every vocal which appeared on Sluff, the vocal here fits the vibe of the music and really comes off as manic; like a younger (and more Australian-sounding, somehow) Jon Spencer, Mullen yips, yelps and growls his way along, and manages to hook listeners with a similar persona. In fact, it could easily be argued that “Green Fuzz” – with the shifts in tempo and style was the work of a band who is deeply in love with the glory days of the Blues Explosion – like almost every Blues Explosion song released before Plastic Fang too, “Green Fuzz” builds and ultimately finds its stride with the stream-of-consciousness, jammy anti-structure of the cut; when it finally does end, nine minutes after it started, listeners still won’t have a blessed clue what they heard or if it was any good – they’ll just know that they enjoyed it immensely.
A similar sort of stream-of-consciousness, “let’s just play until we find something that sounds good” styling endures in “That’s Who’s Really Pointing At Me,” the cut which appears on this single’s B-side. There, Naked Giants don’t even try to hide the fact that there isn’t a working lyric sheet for the song in place (Mullen just repeats placeholder lyrics like, “Stuck in space/ Get it out of my face” and the title lyric over and over in all the places a voice should be), but the interesting part is how the vocals were recorded. Throughout “That’s Who’s Really Pointing At Me,” the possibility that the cut is little more than a demo gets totally derailed as voices jump all over the song’s arrangement; that’s when it becomes self-evident that this song was arranged EXACTLY as the band envisioned it. It’s weird, but that’s the point and listeners will find that the stranger the going gets here, the more excited they’re getting – until the song ends and they’re left wishing there was more to love about this single.
It is because of that wish for more that the success of this “Green Fuzz” single is impossible to deny. In these two cuts is all the bait listeners need to want more music from Naked Giants but, even better, the two cuts will leave them wanting more music similar to them specifically – not just more of what they heard on Sluff. Here’s hoping Naked Giants have a contingency plan worked out the answer and satiate the success this single deserves.
(New West Records)