Music Reviews
King of the Beach

Wavves King of the Beach

(Fat Possum Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 9/10

If your internet has been unplugged for the last 18 months or so you may have missed the rise and fall of San Diego-based Nathan Williams, who became an overnight blog darling prior to exploding disastrously on stage at last year's Primavera. Somewhere between the nonexistent recording quality and endearingly apathetic tunes, Williams managed to lay down two LPs in four months, including the word “Goth” in what seemed like every other song title. And he made sure to let us know just how fucked he really was: “Got no god / Got no girlfriend / And I know that neither one want me”.

But things have changed for Wavves. Firstly the late Jay Reatard happened to piss off his band members enough to prompt their defection to Williams' team. The use of Oxford, Mississippi's Sweet Tea Studio, owned by Modest Mouse's Dennis Herring, is a far cry from the microphone embedded inside the Macbook that handled the recording of the first two LPs. For some, the transition from the solitary bedroom to the professional studio would have proven too great to overcome. And without the addition of bassist Steven Pope and drummer Billy Hayes, Williams' fuzzed out noise could have easily succumbed to the demands of higher fidelity.

The moment the titular track kicks off, it is very clear that this is not the same band that crafted minutes of unlistenable clamor on the two previous records. And if you liked Wavves because Space Raider and More Fur pleasured your masochistic side, be prepared for disappointment. The few melodic tunes that Wavvves was built around, namely No Hope Kids and So Bored barely seem catchy in comparison to the tunefulness of this most recent effort. Yet Williams himself is different. All the self loathing and adolescent frenzy is still present, it's just that he seems happier. Maybe he's just excited for summer, but it seems like Pope and Hayes may have brought Williams more than just a rhythm section.

I'm reluctant to call the project more mature than Williams' earlier efforts. How much could he have possibly accomplished with zero equipment, money, or band? It's definitely more complete, though. The blunt and candid honesty still pours out of Williams. “My own friends hate my guts / So what? / Who gives a fuck?”, he sings on Green Eyes, a testament to failure. The album's first single, Post Acid, drips with 60's garage nostalgia while Williams makes it very clear that he's “just having fun with you”. Even though King Of The Beach marks a dramatic step forward in Williams' abilities as a songwriter, he's still the same lonely dude that can't keep his friends, can't get a girl, and can't catch a break. Except it seems like maybe this time he finally has.

Comments for King of the Beach review

Wavves etc

So just how big is this friggin' sheep that Williams owns? I ask because for all of the wool being pulled over the Criterati's eyes, it must be Godzilla-sized. The first two albums are regularly cited as "unlistenable" yet bloggers and critics alike were stumbling all over themselves trying to anoint Wavves as some fiendishly clever new band and kept tossing out fairly great marks for an album, or albums that - and lets call a noisy spade, a noisy spade, here - was mostly just awful. One or two melodies and a couple of vocal woah, woahs struggling over the unholy din that kerranged ceaselessly from album's start to album's finish, may have been a welcome ray of short-lived sunshine during an awful storm, but that little bit o' nothin' was hardly enough to hang a great album rating on.
Which brings me to King Of The Beach. It's pretty good. I streamed it for a couple of three times the other day and found it very able to perform its duties; namely keep me entertained with catchy, hummable rock. However!! It's in no way guilty of being good enough to present with a 9/10 rating. I'm rarely the kind of guy that begrudges the individual vagaries that turn out the subjective numbers used in critiquing albums. Once again, However!! One can't help but feel that folks are elevating this platter to such a degree because they eventually realized that the last Wavves' disc(s) they reviewed were seen through a film of, errm, wool, and in hindsight are now (or should be if they're not) punching themselves in the gut for being totally hosed by the 50' Wavve (hah!) of hype they got blindsided by. Any number not greater than the other earlier album rating(s) would/could possibly be seen as some kind of self-inflicted failure and thus the anal bleaching of the new album begins! KOB is a fine album and certainly in that typical 7ish range that most Indie rock album of any ability are measured in. A 90 percentile deal is reaching for way more substance that this band is able to give. Hint: give yerselves the anal bleaching and give the public an honest review of this band for a change.

I haven't heard those

I haven't heard those earlier records but I still get where JP is coming from. King of the Beach is decent but my real issue with this review isn't that the critic is blindly siding with indie cred, it's the lack of proofreading. C'mon now.

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