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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mark’s Pick of the Week: Afraid of Heights by Wavves

            When a new Wavves album comes out it’s like Christmas for someone who is as obsessed with beachy-pop-punk as me.  These guys just put out that type of music with a consistency that I don’t really see from anywhere else in this genre.  I started reading some of the preliminary articles, and I keep hearing about how Nathan Williams has grown up, and that it really shows up in this new record.  I am not saying they’re wrong, (they get paid to do what I do for free, so they must be doing something right) but I just see more mature song writing from the same Nathan.  Music is a very unfeeling machine in some ways.  If you aren’t moving or evolving then you get out of the way for someone else.  It looks like Wavves isn’t ready to start selling broken records just yet. 
            Of course Nathan has had to grow up a lot in the last couple of years.  Making his last breakthrough record “King of The Beach” was a struggle with his record company, he decided to self-finance this second album, and to top it all off he’s actually really famous now.  All of these anxieties come out in earnest in this brand new LP release on Mom + Pop (The label of other great acts like Fidlar and Sleigh Bells.)  No one said it would be easy once the band moved out of the basement and into big time recording studios.  However, what Wavves has spun this all into is not only really great to listen to now, but suggests that this isn’t going to be the last great album we hear from these guys.
            I always think of Wavves as what the Beach Boys might have sounded like if they turned the fuzz up, decided to go punk, and then turned the fuzz up some more.  All the makings of a hit are in almost every song these guys put out.  Williams is great at coming up with great hooks that can sell just about anyone on the tracks.  Normally that’s just about all the song has/needs, but in this venture he ventures into newer territory.  We have slide guitar, strings, keyboard, and production by John Hill who adds some so-clean-it-sounds-dirty production to some of these tracks.
Unfortunately the album itself doesn't do this (source:

            What I look for in Wavves albums are the high points.  Most of the songs on his albums are at least alright, but every release promises at least a few really awesome tracks.  That’s what you get with some of the opening tracks like “Sail To the Sun” and “Demons To Lean On.”  Also “Lunge Forward,” “Gimme A Knife,” and the bonus track “Hippie is Punk” are other tracks defiantly worth checking out.  If I had to give this album some criticism is some points drag a bit.  The title track is about 5 minutes, and I feel like a bit could have been trimmed.  This is Wavves’ longest release, and I’m certainly not saying they can’t make longer songs or records I will say there seems to be some growing pains. 
            It’s always good when an album meets expectations.  I’ve been waiting for some new Wavves since the “Life Sux EP” and now this should more then tie me over until the very prolific Williams comes out with something else.  You can check out Wavves on their website to see when they’re playing near you.

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