Son Little’s ‘Like Neptune’ Is a Stunning Statement of Purpose
By Nathan Leigh
September 16, 2022
In terms of raw songcraft, there are precious few artists on Son Little’s level. Since his earliest releases, he’s shown a gift for casting 3 minute spells that take pieces from every genre imaginable and weave them into his own inimitable style. Hints of indie rock, folk, soul, hip-hop, electronica, and tastes of metal waft through the melodies. On Son Little’s latest, the captivating Like Neptune, he’s crafted both his most emotionally vulnerable and sonically bold album yet.
Born out of the isolation and self-examination of the early pandemic, Son Little found himself digging through old writing books. The result is an album that wrestles with cycles of trauma and showcases the struggle to overcome the past and become the best version of oneself. He peppers the songs with tension and mystery with drummer Aaron Draper keeping a propulsive pulse. From the opener, the joyful Draper-centric “drummer,” Son Little announces a musical restlessness and refusal to repeat the same idea twice.
The best songs tend to come when Son Little lets the disparate sides of his personality fight it out, like the haunting, driving “inside out.” That tension comes to a head in the stunning “Playing Both Sides” where the raspy singer makes powerful use of his full vocal range. The songs build up from eerie atmosphere to ear shattering coda is one for the ages. Son Little’s guitar work has never been stronger. The flashes of drive and intensity that peak through throughout Like Neptune repeatedly punctuate the album’s best moments. Son Little’s always been a songwriter’s songwriter, and a singer’s singer but his confidence as a guitarist adds a whole new depth.
As the tension breaks, Son Little closes the record with a pair of career highlights. First, the gorgeous ballad “gloria” hides vintage synths around the margins for an offbeat arrangement that refuses to follow the expected path. Then finally the seductive “what’s good,” which draws a straight line from the various eras of R&B, closing out with a snaking guitar line. Beneath one of the strongest hooks on the record, the loping drum line rises and fades out and the question rings out without an answer.
Like Neptune is out now on ANTI-. Catch Son Little on tour this fall across Europe and the US. Follow @sonlittlemusic on socials for more.
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