REVIEW: Wavves - King Of The Beach
Zach Hart Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Wavves - King Of The Beach
Release Date: July 13th, 2010/Auguest 3rd 2010
Label: Fat Possum
Respect the Wavves, I do not. Love their albums, I do.
“King of The Beach” is not just any other album; it’s an extraordinary release that marks a giant leap forward for the San Diego lo-fi wizard Nathan Williams. Before I praise Williams for one of the best albums of 2010 (so far), I would like to take a few seconds to explain why I really don’t want to experience this band outside their physical releases.
DISLIKE: Not only is Williams a complete asshole, this being documented by a string of juvenile events last year (fights and festival meltdowns), but his ego gets bigger with each interview I read. Be that as it may, I don’t really give a shit how “rock stars” act, just as long as it doesn’t come back to hurting fans who support a musician/band. This is where Williams really pisses me off. The guy is just awful live. He lazily makes his way through the motions, off and on time, missing chords, and generally not giving two shits. I will never fault anyone for not being talented and going in front of a crowd to perform music they love, but Williams gives absolutely no effort to improve his lackluster shows. Yes, a lot of his fans go nuts at his live shows, but for those who are trying to see how the music translates from album to live, it’s a guaranteed disappointment marked by his uninspired approach to playing the guitar.
LIKE: “King Of The Beach”. Scratch that, I love it. The album is sun drenched with thick, dripping hot, sweaty guitars that perfectly klang around with Williams' all out vocals. It’s an albums album; each song twisting into another with such ease that one can’t help but be impressed. The albums greatest strength is the extreme focus on every element of the song. On the amazing track “Post Acid”, Williams adds this gorgeous bouncy guitar at the end of his vocals on the chorus that calls on the genius of Pavement or the Pixies. With the addition of these little beautiful touches, Williams has graduated from fun songwriter to someone who needs to be taken very seriously as a master craftsman of melody.
It would have been so easy for Williams to hide behind his low-fi production that was displayed on the first two albums…let’s face it, we cut people slack if they don’t have the high production value available to them. Wavves went out on a limb (dug up the whole fucking tree more like it) and are better off for the risk. The mix on this album is stunning, sounding like no album I’ve ever heard. It’s packed with tons of influences ranging from The Kickstands all the way to a more current band like Animal Collective. The perfect example of this is on the track “Baseball Cards” where simple bouncy 60’s choruses are complicated and expanded upon by experimental shifts in melody that demand repeat listens to crack its complexity.
Not only is the music extremely catchy, accessible, and a basket full of fun…it’s smart, complicated, and challenges the listener to really investigate all the microscopic sound brush strokes Williams uses to create a near perfect record. The restraint, patience, and pure genius displayed on this album makes me want to rethink my position on Williams, but seeing him live twice and reading his interviews keeps me at arms distance. That’s the thing we all must remember: an album stands alone, everything that happens outside of the speakers is just unnecessary noise. I may not ever want to be friends with the Wavves, but the music on “King Of The Beach” can be the best man at my wedding anytime.