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Album Review: Wavves - Wavvves

  • Written by  Tom Blackburn

Slotting neatly into the array of no-fi garage rock outfits that have emerged out of the US over the last couple of years (Times New Viking, The Hospitals, Blank Dogs, Sic Alps, Eat Skull et al), current bloggers' favourite Wavves âaka San Diego native Nathan Williams has whipped many 'net indie rock heads into something of a lather in recent months.

Let's get it out in the open, then: Wavvves is a good record, but it's too sketchy to be anything more than a solid effort. There's no shortage of hooks not what you'd call terrace anthem material and you'll need a resilient ear to pick them out, but they are plentiful and they are there but from this self-titled effort, Wavves isn't quite the finished article yet.

Aside from having his/their own title track (not enough bands do), Wavves main selling point is his more obvious pop sensibility. He's no Psychedelic Horseshit, put it that way, and that's probably just as well because one of those is enough. But to get back on point, Wavves the song is the standout here, Williams' vocals distorted to high heaven over a Spectoresque drumbeat and the obligatory guitar scuzz.

Racking my tired, addled brain to avoid applying the obligatory 'sun-kissed' adjective to a Californian artist is proving a tougher task than I'd anticipated, but Williams does have a keen ear for a pop melody. The breezy 'The Boys Will Love Us' is a case in point and another highlight, almost giddy and infinitely more charming than anything The Hospitals have knocked together, for example.

There is, it has to be said, the odd moment of aimless noodling bordering on filler disrupting proceedings here. 'Yoked', a pointless two minutes of nothing in particular, is what the fast forward button was invented for, whilst 'Intro Goth' and 'Spaced Raider' are similarly pointless. But Wavvves does hit the mark (for example, the chirpy infectiousness of 'Lover' and 'Beach Goth') often enough to make it a worthwhile diversion.

What does set Wavves apart from the pack, other than the fact he's not afraid of a pop tune, is his sense of fun. In comparison to his often po-faced contemporaries, Williams comes off as likeably goofy. Wavvves sounds like the work of a bedroom anorak, and without wanting to make too many assumptions about Mr Williams himself, it probably is, and this makes it a little easier to excuse its shortcomings.

Although Wavves is a slightly inconsistent introduction to Nathan Williams, he has the tunes, and his blend of Brian Wilson and the abrasive guitar squall of early Dinosaur Jr is a potent one. With a proper debut LP due to follow early in 2009, hopefully this is just an enjoyable prelude to bigger and better things. He'll need to up his game for the full-length, but there's plenty of potential here.

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