Album: King of the Beach
Record Label: Fat Possum
Release Date: 8/3/2010
(Written for Performer Magazine)
Wavves have always been a polarizing band—whether it’s through their ability to enthrall listeners with their loud, stripped down D.I.Y. approach or from their perception as another overhyped hipster band that’s more about antics than substance. Likewise, Wavves founder and frontman Nathan Williams has had his share of highs and lows in recent memory, including both his breakout sophomore effort
Wavvves along with his 2009 Primavera implosion.
After several months out of the spotlight and a couple drummers later, Williams emerged from the midst of his Primavera chaos by joining forces with drummer Billy Hayes and bassist Stephen Pope—the former rhythm section for deceased punk-rocker Jay Reatard. As of Wavves has changed over the past year, so has their sound and creative approach on their third album King of the Beach.
This is apparent from the album’s opening notes, as the title track exudes a defiant lo-fi punk in the likes of Jay Reatard himself. That’s not surprising at all, given that Hayes and Pope are continuing where they left off. But what stands out on King of the Beach is a partial move away from his past emphasis on loud and raw noise-rock. Williams is still punk-focused, but the album emerges with a bit more musical diversity (“Where Will You Come,” “Convertible Balloon”).
In their attempt to infuse some sort of variety into King of the Beach, Wavves get away from the messy and melodic lighthearted focus that many initially fell in love with. This would not necessarily be an issue if they excelled in their musical exploration, but instead these efforts fall flat compared to other surf-rock acts such as Girls or Best Coast. Ultimately, Wavves find themselves in limbo throughout King of the Beach, falling significantly short of their already overhyped reputation.