Wavves - King of the Beach

by Al Brown Rating:5 Release Date:2010-08-02

This is the third album in three years from Wavves, aka 23-year-old San Diegan Nathan Williams. Some might say he should take a bit more time (and effort?) over the next one. Others might reply that it's intentionally half-arsed, grandad. Slack is back: it's like 1994 all over again (God help us.)

So yeah, Williams sings in this really disinterested valley-boy drawl which is bound to polarise. When he slurs "I feel wide, wide opehhhhn" in the first track the urge to hunt down his skateboard and loosen a few integral screws might be a factor. Likewise the hyena-like laughing that kicks off 'Idiot' is fucking unbearable and the lyrics in the first verse totally juvenile, not in an endearing way either. But hey, at least the tunes are solid, right? Well, 'Idiot' sounds like something by Sum-41 but there is better to come.

'When Will You Come?' is a fun Beach Boys parody, kind of minimal and lacking in real effort, but if I cut Best Coast slack for it then I can't really use it as a stick to beat her beau. Most of the tunes here are just super-basic attention-deficit punk rock in the style of Jay Reatard, perhaps not surprising as Reatard's old rhythm section are employed on this album. The crucial difference between Williams and Reatard is that, although Reatard must have known his lyrics were less than profound, he sang them as if his life depended on it. Williams' lyrics are often poor and self-indulgent and he sings them as if he literally gives no fuck. No doubt this nihilistic edge will appeal to the well-dressed glassy-eyed dupes who stand stock-still at the front of your local hipster bar while the bands play. To everyone else though it's just boring.

Williams is a confirmed pothead, and while it might be the uncoolest thing ever to do, I'm going to theorise that his drug of choice can probably be partially blamed for this record's relative failure. The problem with smoking weed and attempting to be creative is that every half-formed idea sounds like the best thing ever, and of course there's a tendency to crack jokes that aren't remotely funny. This record is full of that shit: Williams' half-serious attempts at self deprecation ('Green Eyes') and self-concious wackiness ('Convertible Balloon') are particularly grating. Not that everything is terrible: 'Linus Spacehead' is an efficient Nirvana rip-off, and final track 'Baby Say Goodbye' is a solid pop song that descends pointlessly into repeating electronic squalls.

When a band is as balls-out basic as Wavves (not one of these songs sounds like it took more than 15 minutes to write) they need to sound like they mean it: conviction is everything. Whereas Reatard got by on sheer conviction, and Best Coast are similarly plaintive at their best, Wavves are purposefully flippant and throwaway. It's repeated so often that it kind of loses any meaning, but Williams really does have potential - there are great ideas scattered through all of his albums; whether he can ever realise it (cue headmasterly voice) depends entirely on a change in attitude.

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