Fat Possum Records (2009)
Singing about Beach Demons and Surf Goths, while your band/record title is purposely misspelt, suggests that you’re either annoyingly hip, charmingly naive or in need of a break from the spliffs. Based on 22-year-old Nathan Williams’ drugged-out, hot-mess of a performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival earlier this year, it’s easy to assume the latter, but more likely it’s a combination of all three.
Wavvves reeks of acid trips and bong mist. Based in San Diego, Williams’ music wafts out from the smelly bedrooms of lazy blissed-out teenagers living hippy surf/skate- lifestyles. California has bred a host of these bands recently, from Abe Vigoda to No Age. As if the ghosts of Laurel Canyon, sick of vapid celebrities taking over their hood, have wandered into more urban territory to possess the souls of 4-track recorders and channel noise-decayed pop songs through the bodies of young men.
Where No Age stem from the experimental edge of Hardcore, and Abe Vigoda have their Tropicana thing going on, Wavves is a retro beast. Think of 60’s girl groups spewing out of cracked speakers, and guitars that aren’t quite in tune. The sound is blown out in a Black Metal kinda’ way, but the vocal harmonies needle into your brain and nest there. Like parasites.
The lazy recording techniques and Ramones-esque song titles add a cute naïve schtick to Wavves and his lo-fi pop. Songs like No Hope Kids (“Got no car, got no money…..”) and To the Dregs give predictable two-chord rock songs and apathetic drawls a noisy makeover, so that basic melodies become bulbous and weird. Plenty have used Lo-Fi to this effect before but Wavves has a knack for making his music feel like a warm and hazy memory. Something you want to remember but can’t. It’s probably the pot.
Where Wavvves becomes questionable is when he lets go of the hooks. Killer Punx, Scary Demons throws up twangy drones, organ trills and moaning voices, coming off as a sick joke instead of exciting experiment. And yet somehow it feels like Williams’ is having the last laugh, as he lights another joint, drops another trip and sees how far he can go. Which brings this review round full circle; Wavvves has a naive and playful charm that is a true delight, and who can begrudge Williams’ for indulging in some, ahem, outside inspiration? The problem is his hip, teenage nihilism and ‘I make noise therefore I am’ attitude. Maybe Evol Kween is showing his age but that false apathy gets annoying. And I fucking hate Hipsters.