Words: Lori Bartlett
By this point, you likely have some wayfarers on, sun-kissed skin and a straw fedora or two ready to beat the summer heat. There is nothing like sunny day on some sandy shores to cure all evils in your world. Or, in the case of Wavves frontman, Nathan Williams, put together an album inspired by sunbeams but teeming with an undercurrent of honest angst. For “King of the Beach”, Williams ditched the laptop-recording sessions of his previous efforts for a more polished studio record by hooking up with producer, Dennis Herring at Sweet Tea Recording in ol’ Mississippi. Yet, even with polish and hints of hazy light, not sure this is the album as a whole is the one you wanna throw on for those carefree summer days.
With King of the Beach, Williams’ appreciation for the surf-explosion of the ‘60s is apparent with his misty lyrical style, and repetitive, catchy hooks. But it’s also pretty clear that the skate-punk of the early ‘90s folds heavily into William and Co’s sound. The Beach Boys meet Green Day rings of an amazing combo, yet Wavves stumbles into a few pitfalls with this kind of genre-melding going on.
The title track kicks the album off with a head-bobbing, punchy jolt of power-pop, laced with sharp-tongued lyrics, “You’re never gonna stop me.” The beach punk continues with tracks like “Post Acid” shimmering with a sunny chorus, likeable beat, infectious energy and even a little maniacal laughter at the end. When the songs don’t get too laden with weighty lyrics, or sound well thought out if they do, they are little delectable gems. Yet, not all tracks are gleaming like sun on the waves.
While the album on the whole has an organic isn’t-too-forced feeling, it also suffers because of this very fact. There are a few throw-aways in the mix (“Green Eyes,” “Linus Spacehead”), and others that are so overwrought with self-deprecation that they it don’t play well against the bounciness of the tone. On “Idiot,” in his high register, Williams wails that, “I could apologize, but it wouldn’t mean shit.” This is where the genre blending gets distorted. A Beach Boy would apologize and a punk wouldn’t apologize for anything. Thus, the result is muddy and doesn’t gel in this listener’s ears.
The overall variety on the album is solid, but tracks definitely stand out as the ones that got babied into something fresh, while some others, just slap dashed into the shuffle. “King of the Beach” is packed with SoCal cultural influence, and the high moments could totally rule the sandy shores while the lows can go out with the tide.
Wavves Tour Dates
07-15 Cologne, Germany – Sonic Ballroom
07-16 Berlin, Germany – White Trash
07-17 Münster, Germany – Gleis 22
07-18 Hamburg, Germany – Astratube
07-20 Ravenna, Italy – Beach Mini Festival
07-21 Paris, France – Fleche d’Or
07-23 London, England – Cargo
07-24 London, England – 1234 Festival
07-25 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
07-26 Leipzig, Germany – Sweat Club Leipzig
07-28 Copenhagen, Denmark – The Gun Club
07-29 Emmaboda, Sweden – Emmaboda Festival
07-31 Trondeim, Norway – Brukbar
08-06 Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle *
08-07 Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
08-12 San Diego, CA – Museum of Contemporary Art +
08-13 Pomona, CA – The Glass House ^
08-14 Portland, OR – Berbati’s Pan
08-16 Santa Barbara, CA – Soho
08-17 Santa Cruz, CA – Crepe Place
08-18 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
08-25 Seattle, WA – Neumos
08-26 Vancouver, British Columbia – Biltmore
08-27 Victoria, British Columbia – Sugar
08-30 Sacramento, CA – Sol Collective
08-31 Visalia, CA – Howie and Sons Pizza
* with Harlem, Fergus and Geronimo
^ with the Cool Kids
+ = w/ Shepard Fairey (DJ Set)