Anyone who follows Wavves knows about Nathan William’s meltdown at the Barcelona’s Primavera festival, culminating in an early return to the states and Nathan’s drummer leaving the band indefinitely. Nathan later admitted to being under the influence of a heavy-duty cocktail: xanax, valium, xtc, and some drinking. That’ll do just about anybody in. He said afterwards he has a bit of a substance abuse problem (ya think?), but anyone following Wavves on twitter knows Nathan still likes to party. And that’s alright by me, because weed is an integral piece of King of the Beach -- a perfectly blended cocktail of surf rock, marijuana, Nirvana-influenced power chords, and a touch of electronica. It makes for the perfect record to close out the last half of the summer.
You might think the break-up of the old Wavves would hurt their sound, but Nathan Williams made two major changes which markedly improve upon his last attempt. The first is recruiting the rhythm section of Jay Reatard’s band (Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes), both of whom tighten up the sound Nathan has been developing over the years. The second (and most important) is going to an actual studio to record, as opposed to self producing it in his bedroom. The superior quality gives the guitar that crunchy 90’s alternative sound Wavves so endears, while also allowing him to add some touches of electronica to break up the sound of the record.
“King of the Beach” opens and sets up the sound for most the record, relying on a heavy dosage of power chords and quick tempo. Williams acknowledges his TMZ music-scene critics in “Idiot,” which, along with the Miami-bass pounding “Green Eyes” dive in to Incesticide for musical inspiration. There are a few nods to Animal Collective in tracks like “Mickey Mouse” and “Baseball Cards.” And there’s a great walk through childhood on the nintendo-powered “Convertible Balloon,” one of the two songs written by Billy Hayes.
King of the Beach delivers an improvement over Wavvves in both quality of production and songwriting. There isn’t a weak track included here. The lyrics can be extremely childish, but Williams's songwriting is intentionally simplistic, perfectly accompanying the rock and pop Wavves produces so well . King of the Beach isn’t here to challenge your wits, it’s an album to tune on, tune in, and drop out to as you close out the last half of your hazy summer, and a definite album of the year contender.