Music Reviews
King of the Beach

Wavves King of the Beach

(Fat Possum Records) 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.