Wavves Wavvves

[Fat Possum; 2009]

Styles: sunny bliss, buried
Others: Pumice, Times New Viking, Thee Ohsees/OCS, No Age, Ty Segall

Wavves, nee Nathan Williams, produces his music with a blotted-out, tape-hissed, drone-y sheen. An antiquated notion, you say? Don’t tell that to the underground hordes – Wavves is like Ariel Pink with a bullet, emerging from the same general area, hype quotient and peddling pockets of Pink-y pop, with a few big differences I’ll get into later.

Although Wavves’ jarring recording tactics drew my ear to them initially, Wavvves has become Work. It’s not a chore for the first few outings, but right around the twin harmony of “Gun in the Sun,” which seem to red-out ol’ Williams’ 4-track, the production starts to become an endurance test, depending on whether the equipment is being maxed (during just about every chorus-y moment) or utilized to its best abilities (anything utilizing low-tom drumming and other bass-heavy elements fares much better).

"Sun Opens My Eyes” walks this line to a T, entering with a next-level tribal tom-stomp complete with delicious snare-rim ‘clack’s. Then a few voices unceremoniously butt in, and a nice mood turns into a fuck-all din that stabs the ear. Just about every melody on this record is lovable, but they're practically sabotaged by how bulge-heavy the mix is, with little balance between the painful and the powerful. Sound sabotage can be a beautiful thing, but a little discretion would have made all the difference. Allow me to again reference Ariel Pink, because his music is a polar opposite: AP has the production tricks down pat; he’s silly with technique but struggles to come up with compelling song-songs – vice-versa with Williams’ wild-wild Wavves, wobbly but bursting with ideas that fit in small packages.

It’s been a painful, fatiguing process, to be so initially enthralled with a record and, ultimately, reach what seems such a narrow conclusion. Then again, that’s pretty much part-and-parcel with putting such a narrow emphasis on sound engineering itself, so Wavves have to take the lumps that go with it. And there are a handful o’ filler waxing-electronic tracks too, tracks any other group wouldn’t live down – to slap a high rating on such a formative effort just because the hype is hot, or just because the sound is exciting (but trendy), doesn’t seem right to me at this point.

I don’t think there’s any doubt Wavvves consistently delivers wonderful ideas, and those keeping a close watch on the West Coast underground will have to continue to include this kid in their daily musings until he actually provides material worth the blog-storm. He’s well on his way.

1. Rainbow Everywhere
2. Sun Opens My Eyes
3. Gun In The Sun
4. So Bored
5. Goth Girls
6. No Hope Kids
7. Weed Demon
8. Beach Demon
9. California Goths
10. Summer Goth
11. Ghost Ramp
12. To The Dregs
13. Killr Punx, Scary Demons
14. Surf Goth

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