Wavves WavvesKing Of The Beach
With sweat running down our faces (albeit slightly more in Spain than in the UK, but still, we’re holding our own here right now), it’s inevitable that we’ll play around at comparing two of the albums of this summer: this new work by the Wavves and the imminent debut from Best Coast. They share various things: seaside-type names, colourful album covers with little cats (the Wavves cat scratches more), and an ironclad adherence to the indie style of the moment, christened “beach punk.” Setting aside (without intending to slight) the latest album from ceo , which is something like the hermaphrodite orgasm of the summer, Nathan Williams and Bethany Cosentino have risen up as the prince and princess of the summer 2010. Her album, as we say, will be here soon; his has already arrived, and it’s here to stay. Having come out ahead of schedule because it was leaked, the new digital launch date for “King of the Beach” actually couldn’t have found a better location on the calendar: 1st July, coinciding with the first swim of the summer for many.
Bubbly like a soft drink and as refreshing as a sea breeze, “King of the Beach” is perfect for Williams’s discography, which until now had been a bit too rusty. It especially suits the label Fat Possum who are attempting, as Anti- did last season, to rejuvenate their catalogue of old glories (see the recent releases from Crocodiles, Black Keys, Smith Westerns or the upcoming release from The Walkmen). Nathan is the biggest bad boy of them all, the black sheep of the label. If last year he made enemies, and faced dirty looks and hatred wherever he went, now the shoe is on the other foot, thanks to some songs that sweep everything else away. The terrible headlines that seemed to matter more than his artistic calibre in 2009 have given way to reflection and hard work. Williams has thought things over, got in gear and has pulled twelve songs like shining stars out of his hat. “So Bored” and “No Hope Kids” sound today like mere preliminary sketches of “Post Acid” , “Mickey Mouse” and “Green Eyes”- three enormous examples caught on the fly, that show how the dude writes now: without leaving anything hanging, in good shape from beginning to end. There are many songs on this album that will seem like compensation for those who were able to see something more than noise in his debut. More in number are the people who ought to fall in love with him now, compared to those who couldn’t stand him before.
Because in spite of the lyrics, these are songs to make friends. “Misery, will you comfort me?... Would you understand? That I’m just having fun…” (“Post Acid”); “I still hate music, it’s all the same. I hate myself man, but who can I blame? I guess I’m just fucked up” (“Take on the World”). “I’m just not man enough. My own friends hate me” (“Green Eyes”). Yes, his life sucks like it always has, but having written the best punk-pop album of the season, there are more reasons to smile. His air of the incorrigible loser bounces off of a much softer mattress now. “King of the Beach” is more adeptly written, performed, produced and arranged; he has carried out exactly the same manoeuvre as Ariel Pink in getting out of his bedroom and putting himself in a studio with a producer. In this case, Williams –very cleverly– recruited the rhythm section of the deceased Jay Reatard and managed to obtain the services of the producer Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Camper Van Beethoven, Throwing Muses) to decisively influence on the final sound. Picking up where the author of “Blood Visions” left off (when it seemed that no one would), Wavves situates itself as the most advanced punk-pop band of the moment –not wishing to slight my favourites, Love Is All. It’s a band that is as roguish, hot, obscene, and as bloody as Reatard’s was previously. We just have to pray that he doesn’t lose his head again. For now it doesn’t seem like it will go that way: Williams has confirmed that he is about to put out a record with Zach Hill ( Hella) that they already have recorded.
Biting influences have been mentioned in terms of defining the angst that pervades the album. People talk about Minor Threat, Descendents or Green Day, and it’s true. But what’s really juicy about “King of the Beach” is how this spirit mixes with one of its opposites, the candid quality of 60s girl groups. The exquisite “When Will You Come”, looking in the rear-view mirror of “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes , or the perfect fit of the sample of the Crystals sample within the weave of “Mickey Mouse” make the contrast and shock of similarities give off a blinding light. Less surprising are the traces of the Pixies that we already knew were there –from “Weed Demon” specifically. To end, “Convertible Balloon” and “Baby Say Goodbye” (two songs that are radically different from the rest of the tracklist, and which sound a bit like Of Montreal perhaps) make it clear if it wasn’t already that this is an artist who can’t and doesn’t want to hide anything, and who has the ability to regenerate. A reborn Nathan Williams is playing bare-ass naked on the beach by the sea, skipping his hour of digestion and getting sunburnt. Excellent.