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King of the Beach
Wavves King of the Beach
Released 30 July 2010
Producer Dennis Herring
Label Bella Union
Length 36:42
Genre Noise punk, surf rock
Website wavves.net
82

It isn't a shock to find rock star dramatics or bad behaviour on the music scene these days and public meltdowns are really de rigueur for anyone that even comes into the periphery of the public eye but following last year’s events some of you out there may have been left wondering if Nathan Williams was okay? Or, indeed, if Wavves would be? And in the aftermath of Williams ecstasy, alcohol and valium fuelled fight with festival goers at Primavera in 2009 and an onstage scuffle with drummer Ryan Ulsh things didn't look well. But Wavves have returned with their third album in as many years, Ulsh is gone, and having cherry picked drummer Billy Hayes and bassist Stephen Pope from the late Jay Reatard's band Wavves has a new line up.

In keeping with true Wavves style they don't seem to have mellowed either. Nor has Williams lost his humour as news of his recent onstage antics can attest. In what appears to be an elaborate joke and total fabrication on Williams' part, at a recent New York gig (and via twitter) the Wavves front man complained about a Disney lawsuit over the KOTB track 'Mickey Mouse' later further provoking the animation giants with an onstage tirade “Walt Disney was a Nazi. You go [to Disney World], you feel Nazi vibes. It's disgusting.” Fat Moose records have denied the existence of any such lawsuit leaving many to wonder how much of Wavves act is predicated on such posturing or how interested Williams is in generating a persona of interesting upstart or rock music enfant terrible.

Enough about the antics, though, and all thoughts of posturing aside, King of the Beach delivers. You'd be forgiven if you mistook the confidence residing in songs like 'King of the Beach' and 'Take on the World' for a brighter world view however with even love songs like 'Green Eyes' changing to refrains of petulance and discontent "My own friends/Hate my guts/So what!/Who gives a fuck" while other songs like 'Idiot' and 'Super-Soaker' echo the words "I'd say I'm sorry/But it wouldn't mean shit" and "stupid" over and over. The album sees Modest Mouse producer Dennis Herring at the helm and seems a much more accomplished venture than previous recordings. Still present is all the lo-fi grunginess and noise of the eponymous first and nearly eponymous second album (Wavves and Wavvves respectively) but now they offer a much more polished and oftentimes more accessible sound. Remaining too are the Brian Wilson falsetto and doo-wop inspired harmonising that could also be said to take their cue from bands such as The Angels, The Shirelles or The Ronettes. And it is this element that works as perfect antidote to Wavves surf punk chords and Cobain-esque ennui that otherwise might see Gidget running for the dunes and instead balance out the compact noise aesthetic making a much more layered experience with very much to offer the repeat listener.

All of this makes Wavves one of those impeccably named bands. Like their double vv-ed handle behind the brash vocals their music has a certain hissing sibilance often evoking some sliver of conflict melody only slightly heard on an out of tune radio. The genius of coupling this with an unhealthy dose of self hate and an oftentimes dissonant song architecture are what make Wavves the kind of band they are. And that's the kind of band increasingly on the up and up, waiting to be discovered by an eager Irish audience. And with an album of this standard Wavves will certainly have their day as Kings of the Beach.

- Cormac O’Brien