Album Review: Wavves - King of the Beach

From the opening of the new album King of the Beach, Wavves continues to change the game - when they started they had a typical indie vibe, as lead singer Nate William's band Jay Reatard had, then Wavves "went lo-fi", but now they appears to go 60s surf with a soft touch of punk. Not to make Wavves sound like a confused rock band, but this effort is definitely an exploratory album from the group.

As one could tell, from the tripped-out album cover to the sunshine "one day we'll take over the world" lyricism, King of the Beach comes off as an ode to the West Coast. The album appears like it was recorded in a garage, the noise and samples (though very little) give a taste of old school surf rock, and the physical album (i.e. the cover, the case, all of that) just give off a vibe that you're only two feet away from the Pacific shores. Why are there no tunes for the Atlantic? Enlighten my mid-Western mind, please!

Wavves did a wonderful job covering their shots at the Internet because of William's breakdown in 2009 by giving listeners content reminiscent of a wide array of 60s bands, from the Ramones to the Beach Boys. Their opening song named after their title may appear to be about being king of some beach, but during the hook ("you're never gonna stop me") places this song in a motivational, shot-taking, anti-media jam. "Take on the World" had to be one of the most disguising songs on the entire album, hell, even the summer! Instead of this track being more anti-Government like the hook intends ("to take on the world would be something"), the lyrical content revolves around the band's music. They start off with some satirical self-hatred, saying things like "I hate my music" and "I'm just too fucked up" and nobody likes me. Ultimately, a potentially awesome song became hella selfish, and to fully hear it is depressing - whether it's intended or not. And it's not even a great emotional effort, the self-hatred seems to be rather mocked. Overall, King of the Beach seems to be fueled by hate and depression, as if Williams (who also writes the songs, I presume) is still salty about his breakdown. Any efforts outside of that is unmentionable, like "Convertible Balloon" and Post Acid", as it is pretty lackluster in the delivery.

Although the lyrics seem depressing, maybe King of the Beach could be released as a total jam record, with no vocals whatsoever? The production behind this album is the total opposite of the lyricism - simply put, unselfish. The low quality of the record fits the tunes perfectly. If anybody wants a current sound of the 60s, this is how to do it. There were hints of the lo-fi sound we all know and love, giving off hints of an 80s style to some of the tracks. For example, "Baseball Cards" has random noises like toy machine guns and the laser gun noises from low-budget 80s movies and "Convertible Balloon", well towards the end, is a total 80s joint. "King of the Beach," "Idiot," and "Post Acid" sound like something fresh off an unreleased Ramones record, yet a tinge of repetition reminiscent of the Minutemen, a late 70s/early 80s punk band. The samples at the end of nearly every record though have small clips of other bands mixed with mad distortion, like the end of "Take on the World". And, just to throw this out there, the band's delivery of "Mickey Mouse" was the most hype delivery of the the whole album, though making out what Williams is saying is very difficult.

Overall, King of the Beach was so-so at best. If listeners just want to hear some jams, then by all means go for it. However, if listeners want to avoid a state of depression wrapped in fluffy sunshine band-music, then leave this album alone! This could come off as a great album to bang in the summer sun, yet it can be the album that creates cutters. Overall, it seems like everybody out of Wavves had fun making this album but the lead singer. That may have killed this album's potential.

Star's Grade: C+

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