This Wavves article was written by Sam Holmes, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Wavves return for their fifth full length LP with ‘V’ and if you’re a fan of the band’s previous work, you’ll know what to expect. The band makes little departure from its reverb-soaked indie/surf rock sound which, five albums in, is beginning to feel a little stale.
The songs all follow a very similar formula and opener ‘Heavy Metal Detox’ gives a good sense of exactly what you’re in for across the ten other tracks; fuzzy guitars, catchy hooks, and lyrics that explore frontman Nathan Williams’ inner struggles, incorporating his love for all things partying at the same time.
Whilst 2013s ‘Afraid of Heights’ saw Wavves try something slightly different with its dark and moody vibe taking a sizeable chunk out of the Nirvana book, ‘V’ sees the band revert back to their ‘King of the Beach’ days, with a much more frantic pop-punk sound. ‘Way Too Much’ in particular follows the blueprints for writing a pop-punk song with its whiny vocals and bass-reliant verses being reminiscent of early Blink 182.
To their credit, it is another heavily pop-punk orientated song that exemplifies Wavves at their best in ‘My Head Hurts’. The track doesn’t pause for breath even for a second; instead allowing its guitars to take the lead creating what is the most energetic and exciting moment on the entire LP. For a band who continue to follow the same formula and so are surely aware of their limitations in sound and song-writing, it’s a shame that more of the tracks don’t follow suit.
‘Flamezesz’ has an equally powerful chorus, only for the verses to suffer in comparison simply because there isn’t the same noise or energy. Similarly, tracks such as ‘Redlead’ and ‘Heart Attack’ have this same problem; the effectiveness of the catchy hooks and riffs are lost due to the fuzz and volume not being utilised nearly enough. This creates further problems in the case of ‘Redlead’ with its dull, bass driven verse highlighting that Williams’ whiny vocals can become a bit grating on the ears.
The final track ‘Cry Baby’ summarises the general feel of the album as a whole. Its wonderfully beach party infused intro riff leading into another formulaic noisy song that isn’t quite noisy enough perfectly represents the album’s promising and truly great moments being brought down by the dull and uninspired ones.
It’s no doubt a fun ride; Williams can craft a catchy sing-a-long as well as any other and this will surely please long term fans of the band. But considering that at their best Wavves can create pulsating lo-fi mayhem, it’s a shame they don’t do it enough, leading to an album that, whilst not without its merits, is ultimately forgettable.
‘V’ is out now via Ghost Ramp and Warner Bros.