Wavves: Wavvves

Music Reviews Wavves
Wavves: Wavvves

A noise punk who applies Surf Wax U.S.A. liberally

Although Wavves’ song titles read like they’re pulled from a Mad Libs with blanks like “Type of goth” and “Place where sand meets water,” each fuzzy punk blast is far from formulaic. Wavvves, one-man-band Nathan Wiliams’ follow-up to last year’s self-titled debut, shows in umpteen foot-stomping melodies a mastery in the art of exploiting the tiniest variations on the themes of a twentysomething’s loneliness and apathy. “Got no car, got no money,” he sings on standout “No Hope Kids.” “I got nothing, nothing, nothing, not at all.”

In the Wavves kingdom, the answer to dreary times is to hit the surf, hit the bong, hit the speaker cones with blunt objects. The final directive makes for melodies augmented with blistering squalls of feedback, perhaps best approximated by long groupings of letters that don’t spell anything. Uniform listlessness can be an uplifting experience, however, if set to the proper power-chord progressions. “To the Dregs” turns out to be a hip-shaker, and “So Bored” is downright chipper, with the album’s sunniest harmonies and a mini-solo closing it out.

Similar distortion-based pop has brought acts like No Age and Times New Viking accolades. Although it’s easy (and lazy) to compare Wavves to both acts, Williams’ two-minute ditties also aspire to the sculpted scuzz that kept Guided By Voices, Sebadoh and Sonic Youth above the fray of contemporaries who never made it out of a 7″ bin.

Wavves takes a risk that pays off with the percussionless Cobain-copying-the-Pixies “Weed Demon,” which is as spooky as it sounds. Less lucky is “Goth Girls,” an instrumental echoing what Animal Collective synthesizer demos probably sound like in their nascent stages, and one of a handful of moments that sound like they was more fun to create than they are to hear. Another wordless track, “Rainbow Everywhere,” sparkles as bright as a bottle rocket shooting lasers. Just like real fireworks, there’s a “gather ’round” quality to this spectacle, but don’t forget some earplugs.

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