I never understood the hype that Wavves generated with their last album. It sounded like fuzzy trash. I am pretty open to noise-oriented bands, but that was painful to my ears. I even smiled a bit when I heard Nathan Williams got his ass kicked by Jared Swilley from The Black Lips. As I was about to begin playing the album, I wasn’t particularly excited. I was expecting more of the same un-provoking, overrated, ‘chillwave.’
I was wrong.
This album demonstrates a clear departure from his previous efforts. Williams finally decided to record a real album. King of the Beach has direction and a noticeably more mature approach to songwriting. Wavves has been able to achieve this without overcomplicating his songs by keeping them short, catchy and charming. Even though this is an overall cleaner album when compared to his previous efforts, there are still traces of the lo-fi sound that brought Wavves onto the scene, allowing them to retain their unique sound. This record is a collection of songs that have an identity that allows them to not only sound good as a part of the greater whole, but each one takes on a life of their own. In every track there is potential for any listener to find something that can become special to them–it is hard for me to recommend only a few. King of the Beach is one of those records you have to listen to in its entirety. Any track may end up your favorite.
The album kicks off with the title track, immediately setting the mood for the cleaner, better-adjusted sound that Wavves has adopted. “Post Acid” quickly became one of my personal favorites. The guitars are raw, it remains upbeat from start to finish, and it is one of the catchiest songs I have heard all year. The album continues the “feel-good vibe” with “Take on the World.” This is followed by three of the most charming songs on the album, “Baseball Cards,” “Convertible Balloon” and “Green Eyes.” They are simple songs that make you want to go to a beach with your buddies and enjoy a good summer day.
Later comes “Mickey Mouse,” which sounds like something that could belong in an Animal Collective album. It is a clear demonstration that Wavves is not scared to explore and experiment with different sounds and styles. These new musical directions are working for him, and Wavves has all of a sudden become much more unpredictable and exciting. The album ends with “Baby Say Goodbye,” which embodies everything Wavves has done correctly on King of the Beach. The album captures your attention from the start and keeps you captivated throughout all twelve songs.
I was never carried away by the hype that had surrounded Wavves in the past. However, I can officially declare myself a convert. This has been one of my favorite albums of the year.
–Enrique Lemus, host of Moose Trax, Monday 10pm-12am