If you’re like me, when you think about “fluff,” you think about the irritating and incessant white filling that your dog keeps pulling out of the cheap toys that you buy her. Or maybe you think about idle, obligatory small talk with an acquaintance that — let’s be honest — you’d rather pass on. But “Fluff,” the new single from Athens psychedelic rockers Fat Neptune, is anything but redundant, dull conversation.
The foursome got its start just last year, after guitarist and lead vocalist Richard Wells posted an ad on Craigslist looking for musicians in the area willing to collaborate. Jason Johnson (keys), Michael Purvis (bass), and Scottie Stephens (drums) answered the call, and by December the group had enough songs to release its self-titled debut EP.
“Fluff” drops you headfirst into a dizzying array of grainy and fuzzy guitar hooks that slowly let up as Wells’ vocals — tucked somewhere in the back, soft and secluded — swell up to the forefront of the mix. At the third minute, all the pieces come together into a ruthless but satisfying wall of sound that’s easy to nod your head to.
The attention to melodic and harmonic detail pokes out at you after a couple listens. At either end of the track are two softer, more ethereal bookends that are seemingly separate from each other, until you realize that the intro and the ominous, Brian Wilson-esque a capella outro share the same chord. It illustrates deliberate crafting, and it’s refreshing to see the careful consideration of each note, rather than the lackadaisical style employed by so many guitar rock bands.
The single comes to us just five months after the release of the Fat Neptune EP and shows a steady growth towards a sound that’s more honed. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the EP or that it wasn’t a fully conceived first effort — notable tracks are “Cosmonot,” a psychedelic headfirst dive down the rabbit hole, as well as the odyssey that is “Fake Light Moon” — but “Fluff” offers something that is less playful and reaches for something loftier than was heard on the debut. Listen below.
Fat Neptune will perform on Friday, July 15 at the 40 Watt when they play in support of Polar Waves and Makshula. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5.