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Wavves
King Of The Beach Simon Jay Catling , July 29th, 2010 13:47

"Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another," once stormed Homer - ironic for a man who may not have existed. And while these words are undoubtedly sage, I daresay the verbose Greek poet wouldn't have proclaimed this message of 'being yourself' with quite so much much vigour had he been around to hear its consequences on Wavves last year.

If the outraged bleatings of the sensitive dears of the blogosphere were to be believed, the gates of Hades would've been too kind a resting place for its marijuana-puffing, ollie-pulling, Californian burn-out creator Nathan Williams. And if a duff album wasn't enough, there was his 'breakdown' at Primavera, the spat with Black Lips, and his ten-minute-long sets, all of which were furiously dissected by RSI-suffering mouse clickers who hated the fact that someone they'd championed was 1) not actually being good and 2) didn't really give a shit about point one. But, of course, he was just being himself; if smoking, skateboarding and dicking about with a guitar led to him getting a record deal, why change? It's hard to imagine Williams being any different, whether he'd been felt up on hypem.com or not. From that perspective, the hate seemed pretty misplaced. Instead of pouring their scorn on someone who hadn't notably courted attention, the bloggers and journos should have looked at themselves and asked, "Who helped get him here? Ah, shit."

And here Wavves still is, he's reached his third album and, hey, guess what? It still sounds like it's been made by a bored stoner who's found someone eagerly waving wads of cash at him to be a professional musician. On 'Post Acid' Williams sings "I just want to have a laugh with you," a line directed at a girl but one which could just as easily be aimed at his detractors. It's this feeling of wasted give-a-fuckerthat pervades King Of The Beach. In 'Idiot' he sneers "I won't ever die, I'll go surfing in my mind," which means we're stuck with his penchant for surfing references and self-loathing - although what the latter comes across as is the sort of nihilism that a teenager might feel after going on too long without masturbating. Not much, then.

Williams' lyricism is wilfully dumb, almost as if to bait those of us who might go looking for something deeper: single words are draped over entire choruses, lines are repeated over and over again but not with punk urgency, instead they're knowing drawls. It's brilliantly infuriating, all told - especially when he proudly tells us on 'Green Eyes' that "I don't give a shit, sky high well I fly high lately." You cannot beat a man who so obviously doesn't care that he has an opponent hitting him.

A lot of King Of The Beach still sees the 22-year-old stumbling upon one melody and dandering about with it for a bit before getting bored and half-arsedly finishing the song, but despite this there are improvements, not least on the mixing desk where Wavvves godawful production is discarded and replaced with an improved crispness. Opening pair 'King Of The Beach' and 'Super Soaker' sound sharp and direct and further on, 'Take On The World' starts in similar vein only to dive long into a deep pool of wallowing reverb. Sometimes, such as on 'When Will You Come', you're too busy marveling at the (comparatively) sprucy sheen of it all to notice that the two and a half minute track is just the same vocal hook pretty much ad infitum. There's a wider range of influences too, an understandable nod to the late Jay Reatard, while blog staples HEALTH and Animal Collective are referenced in lightly sprinkled squiggles and odd noises.

Ultimately though, King Of The Beach will only convert generous ears who think he had a hard time of it last year. It's not an awful album, and a couple of moments – the pricks of actual pain felt on 'Take On The World' and the catchy in spite of itself ‘Green Eyes' – almost make you think Williams could have a career worth saving. The trouble is, he probably shouldn't have been given one in the first place, but it's too late now chaps, you've given him this platform, all you can do for now is stick your goggles on to deflect the flecks of spit he's shooting in your direction.

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