“I won’t ever die, I go surfing in my mind,” REVIEW: Wavves – King Of The Beach

So, another year and another Wavves album. What could Nathan Williams do to make a better record than what I considered to be last year’s crowning achievement, the best album released last year and namely crowning him the king of the teens. His songs picked upon strong, teenage and even young adult obsessions and culture. He was living what he was writing too, with what seemed to be self-induced immaturity and a breakdown to boot.

But now it’s all changed. Opening with prior leak (and reviewed) song “King of the Beach”, Williams has tapped right into as well as exploiting the beach pop elements of his music. It’s like a tripped out, paranoia-filled, garage rock-infused Beach Boys song. William’s cries out for to “Let the sun burn my eyes, let it buh-urn my baaaaaaack,” accompanied by his reassurances that “You’re never going to stop me,” build up this empowered and paranoid persona. He follows this with the brilliant “Super Soaker” which seem to highlight Williams’ forthcoming alien obsession, documented alot if you follow him on Twitter. It also, as I’m sure as hell includes, Williams’ falsetto singing “Bill Clinton ohhh-aaahh-oohhh” which is suffice to say, quite bizarre. It also, as it’s name suggests, connotes the eponymous water gun, a sense of childlike wonder and a derogatory nature towards anything “stoohped.”

The following songs, “Linus Spacehead,” “When Will You Come,” and “Baseball Cards” all strike a slower more downbeat tone, the former begins this transition with a steady beat, but builds into something with more wailing and high-pitched singing, probably the song most reminiscent of his previous album. And it’s follow on continues with the wailing but offering a dreary, repetitive beat over-lapsed with jingle bells. It’s my least favourite song on the album, even the ridiculous humour of something like penultimate track “Convertible Balloon,” is in my opinion better. The last song mentioned, the sublime “Baseball Cards” do exactly the same thing as the previously demoed “Mickey Mouse” (and it’s counterpart “Cool Jumper,”), portraying an AnCo-esque sound but drained out and suitably lo-fi.

Next comes brilliantly self-derogatory song “Take On The World”, where he declares that “I hate my music, it’s all the same,” and this angered, almost consensus-agreeing statement, shows Williams’ defiance and strong willed attitude. Hey recently said, “Well, I’ve got everything in front of me, there’s really no good excuse not to do this 100% right,” and it’s this attitude that seeps into the album through songs like this. What follows is his Mountain Dew sponsored-single, Post Acid. It’s nonchalant, trippy depression to reassured happiness and connotation of love, kickstarts that spark of ironic humour that finds itself present on the late tracks, first distinct with the stupid and kind of annoying laughing at the start of “Idiot”

However the song itself cuts such a different picture, lyrics like the opening line, “Laugh, I bet you laugh, I bet you laugh right behind my back.” Again this builds up the paranoid and aggressive side to Williams’ songwriting. It also contains arguably the best line on the whole album, when he decrees that “I won’t ever die, I go surfing in my mind.” Which I defy anyone not to find cool, it’s a brilliant lyric that in a way sums up the work of Wavves, as well as what I can only assume is the attitude to life and death he has. This is followed by beauty-fearing “Green Eyes” another lovely song, that has a incredibly Best Coast-esque acoustic opening before transforming into a garage rock thrasher, it’s xylophone twinkles the only thing reminiscent of the song’s start when coupled with Williams’ more heartfelt singing.

The only song that was heard prior to Post Acid and the leaked title track was of course, Mickey Mouse, again a very AnCo-esque song that at the end of last year, hinted at the future for Wavves. Now, this version is incredibly similar to that prior demo, not that that’s a bad thing because I love the song, and still do, and even being heard prior, it’s still a highlight of the album, the repeated, drained and fuzzy vocals again highlight paranoia, “I never wanna leave home, when the thing in the back of my brain, tells me I won’t be safe when I’m out there.” The album wraps up with the songs “Convertible Balloon”, as mentioned with pure ridiculous humour and “Baby Say Goodbye” which as a final note is probably one of the strongest straying away from the typical Wavves back catalogue. Both these last songs in a way enhance and diminish the overall album, both being obviously drug-inspired beats and insane lyricism, “Convertible Balloon,” obviously being a prime example. There is also within thsese songs hints of future Wavves as well, these last two songs could be perceived as a bit of a joke, but they are, coupled with “Baseball Cards” and “Mickey Mouse”, the biggest departures from that distorted sound you would typically associate with the past material.

To conclude, Wavves’ third sucessive album in the last three years is as much a revitalization of WIlliam’s creative output as it is a revelation that he can actually write these songs for the studio environment, not just songs that replicate what he’s done before but with cleaner audio but songs that show the extent of his songwriting skills. There isn’t anything for him to hide behind and you get the sense that Williams’ is relishing in this, not just for his own sake but to prove to his haters and the non-believers, that he is, without a shadow of doubt, King of the Beach.

Listen to the album here

Mickey Mouse (2009 Demo Version)
Post Acid

Enjoy these recently released album preview videos:
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/12225712]
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/12196922]

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  1. [...] Wavves – King of The Beach What I wrote in the original review: “[Nathan] Williams…is, without a shadow of doubt, King of the [...]