Supergroups are the easiest way to guarantee organized chaos — whether through the collision of genres, influences, or creative minds. Neaux is a supergroup in the conventional sense, bringing together members of VersaEmerge, Have Heart and Trash Talk, but the output captured on their debut, Fell Off the Deep End, doesn’t veer too far off in one songwriting direction. For example, Have Heart and Trash Talk’s unapologetic brands of hardcore get retrofitted to guitar tones more aligned with shoegaze and grunge, while VersaEmerge’s baroque pop gets frosted behind guitar pedal fuzz and smoke. The result is less about the parts, and moreso a chunky, expansive whole.
The remastered version of Fell Off the Deep End is just as immediate and forceful as its 2016 incarnation, its full sound allowing the varied color of Neaux’s world to populate the senses. Some tracks are cast in monochrome, like “Somewhere Up North,” where a sharp feedback tone gets sliced by a pulpy opening riff, and Sierra Kay’s shrill vocals sit behind a film of distortion. Others pop in bright blues and greens, like the waterlogged “Deep Dive,” a keyboard-swirling slow burn where all ferocious elements take a backseat to calculated atmosphere. Where these two color swatches converge is where Neaux finds their most elegant, focused songwriting. In this ongoing analogy, “Only Lonely” matches the EP’s outer artwork, with muted hues of red and pink subduing the midtempo rocker from moments of fire for an experience that’s far more straightforward. That same, main objective composes “Beaten Bruised and Over It,” where Kay’s vocals swell to enormous highs, yet are kept in check by flecks of reverberating strings. Other times, the color wheel gets disregarded completely, like with the overload of burnt orange on “Sorry I Said It,” a closer so awash with feedback and whining guitar that it feels like a continuation to Siamese Dream.
At any rate, Fell Off the Deep End doesn’t have a willingness to color code as it attempts to decode the different backgrounds of its principal members. While cleverly masked by a layer of guitar pedals and effects, there’s really no telling what the future of Neaux could bring given divergent, swerving origin stories, not even when considering the rich sensory experience its first outing leaves after the smoke settles.
Carl Saff’s remastering of Neaux’s Walnut Room Recording sessions ring true with masterful clarity here. Even when considering the filters on Kay’s vocals or similar dampening of the cymbals on tracks like “Somewhere Up North,” the sonic experiments never get falsely represented here. Even tracks built on these effects — like the shimmering “High Hopes” — don’t wobble or shudder with inferior audio quality, allowing Kay’s versatile range to push through and linger long after the track ends. This record was cut at 45 RPM.
A double-sided color inner sleeve shows off lyrics and credits — simultaneously more and less ornate than Neaux’s past lives — but that’s really the only upgrade here, save for matte packaging across the board. The front artwork features the same image from the 2016 version of Fell Off the Deep End, but the text is smaller and the entire photograph is given a blanket of half-tone dots.
Fell Off the Deep End is available on vinyl and cassette via Iron Pier. (The cassette is the 2016 original master.)