Amidst major conflict with his major label company, Nathan Williams, Wavves’ frontman, has been hard at work to make sure their album is released in the way he wants it to be. With various conflicts earlier this year, such as posting songs on Soundcloud and tweeting threats to his label, Wavves comes forth with their new album “V.” This comes after much anticipation seeing as that Williams has been busy with various side projects like “Cloud Nothings.” Though the label has caused much strife for the band, they’ve been hard at work with this new album. So much so, that they’ve cut back on the acid trips and hardcore partying to come together and create an artful album while being as sober as possible.
The album, however, is anything but sober. According to Williams, the album itself was inspired by long nights of partying and nonstop drinking sessions that resulted in them being unable to feel anything. The influence of these party sessions are apparent in the opening track, “Heavy Metal Detox” which kicks off the album with aggressive, low-fi machine gun paced guitar riffs on top of hazy vocals. Williams sings, “Have I lived too long? / My head hurts,” giving the listener a peek into his “live fast, die young” lifestyle. The album contains a couple of songs similar to this, that have apparent influences from thrash metal to punk rock and going back into garage rock with the songs “All the Same,” “My Head Hurts” and “Cry Baby.”
All of these songs are reminiscent of a crowd pumping show that instantly want to make you start a mosh pit and lose control. These songs are structured in such a way that you feel like you’re drunk and losing control but as the songs get closer to the end, it’s as if that effect starts to wear off and the headache and mistakes that you’ve forgotten about all come rushing back, just like a hangover.
Compared to previous records, this one is a lot more lethal and succinct, with almost each song around just two minutes long. The songs begin and end just as fast as the hazy memories of constant partying come and go. It’s not all hardcore partying on this album, however. Wavves decides to chill out on some songs, going back to take the crown of surf rock with songs like “Pony.” This song gets more intimate and personal as the song talks about longing for that past girlfriend you can’t get over. He longingly sings, “I’ll always be lost without you,” and gets slightly more hopeful toward the end of the song when he says, “It’ll take some time … It gets better.” With obvious influences from Joy Division, these tracks slow down with a steady and catchy bassline that strings the song along on top of lo-fi surf rock guitars.
“Heart Attack” follows suit, but instead takes influence from grunge legends, like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, going for a ballad of acoustic and electric guitars, melding the sound atop his hazy vocals. These two songs depart from the overall aesthetic of the album by using surf rock instead of grunge like the rest of the songs. Perhaps the most interesting song on the album is “Red Lead.” It starts off with intense guitars, creating a disturbing atmosphere evocative of a horror film, that exudes an incredibly tense feeling. His constant yelling of “running out” feels desperate and trapped, pushing this emotion onto the listener.
Although “V” is is fast, hard-hitting and aggressive, it suffers from the fact that the songs sound too familiar. All the songs have the same chord progression, and the vocals come across too angsty. Fans of Wavves will feel like this album is just more of the same, while new listeners might actually enjoy it.
Rating: 3 stars