Something has apparently gone right for Nathan Williams (a.k.a. Wavves) since his last record was released in 2009. On reverb-and-distortion-heavy pop songs like -No Hope Kids’, Williams wailed apathetically about having no car, no money, no time, no girlfriend: -Got no time ‘¦. got no girlfriend ‘¦ I got nothin nothin nothin not at all.’ After one listen to King of the Beach, his new, cleanly produced record of Blink 182-meets-the-Beach-Boys summer anthems (falsetto harmonies meet distorted, noisy guitars throughout) and its clear that Williams now does in fact have all of these things’”or at least time, money, and a girl.
Williams is still having those same coming-of-age realizations that are self-loathing and angsty-as-fuck, evident on the tracks that veer towards the 90s pop punk side of the spectrum, like ‘Idiot’ (‘I’m not supposed to be a kid/ But I’m an idiot/ I’d say I’m sorry but it wouldn’t mean shit’), ‘Post Acid’ (‘Misery, won’t you comfort me in my time of need?’) and ‘Take On the World’ (‘I hate my music, it’s all the same, I hate myself but whose to blame’).
The difference is that now listeners can actually hear Nathan’s every enthusiastic word, as opposed to his last two records, where we had to listen closely through tracks that sounded like they were mumbled into a telephone. On King, Williams swaps the noisy home-recording process for cleaner production’”the album was recorded in a proper studio, over three months, with Modest Mouse producer Dennis Herring. More time and energy was expelled here than on Williams’ previous efforts; it’s undoubtedly for the best.
In addition to all of the self-deprecation, King of the Beach has its -upper’ moments as well. On the more Beach Boys-influenced end of things are breezy tracks like ‘When Will You Come?’ that put Williams’ falsetto vocals at center-stage, with bells and tambourine taps. ‘Baseball Cards’ is full of sunny synths, ‘sha la las’ and finger snaps, plus lines like ‘I don’t want to walk outside without you.’ On the album’s most blatant love song, ‘Green Eyes’, Williams sings, ‘Green eyes, I’d run away with you.’ And ‘Mickey Mouse, the most weed-inspired track, layers the falsettos and ‘woo oh ohs’ with looped handclaps and drums.
The obvious West Coast vibes, plus simplicity and straightforwardness of the lyrics, lead to comparisons with Crazy For You, the new record by Best Coast (aforementioned -girl’). The two have clearly spent a lot of time around one another, putting them on similar wavelengths for two of this summer’s most commendable pop records. Makes you wonder how long it will be before they make one together.