With their 2018 debut LP, the Seattle trio Naked Giants managed to find the crossroads between garage rock, punk and the pop-laced New Wave funk of bands like Talking Heads and Jonathan Richman. Their latest, The Shadow, shows they clearly held onto that roadmap.
While Sluff was a decent first showing, The Shadow, is a more consistently solid album that finds the band expanding their sound a bit more while still managing to remain tethered to the vibe that made them stand out with their first effort. The album kicks off with “Walk of Doom,” a fun, if slightly uninspired garage rock number. A mild opening volley maybe, but what follows is far more impressive, like “High School (Don’t Like Them)” a trippy punk psych track; the dance funk of “Take A Chance”; and the slow tempo, stand out track “Turns Blue,” with its Jesus And Mary Chain-worthy guitar sludge. Then midway into the record, they easily switch band into a garage rock band with the searing “(God Damn!) What I Am”. Thematically, the band touches on some dark moments, with hints of depression, personal struggles and trauma, but much of that is eased through with nods to lyrical optimism about getting to the other side and some solid pop hooks.
In addition to Naked Giant, all three members also play in the backing band to Will Toledo’s Car Seat Headrest and much like that gig they manage to flaunt wildly eclectic and deeply diverse musical influences that seem counter to their ages (all three are in their early-20s). Listening to The Shadow you imagine everything from The Buzzcocks and Sonics to The Flamin’ Groovies and The Pixies playing in the tour van.