Album Review – V / Wavves

vWavves’ energy is unbelievably frenetic and wild, like a bunch of hyper kids being introduced to pop-punk. In their past, they were more likely to put out a song like ‘King of the Beach’ full of fuzzy surf-rock, but for they’ve made a conscious effort to mature their sound into radio-ready guitar music. The guitars throughout are clear to within an inch of their life, the band hardly ever taking their hands off a constant strum of power-chords. Their sense of melody comes naturally, with each section slotting into the next like a neat jigsaw. The likes of ‘Heavy Metal Detox’ and ‘Pony’ are pure, unfiltered pop songs in the guise of rock, but it’s where Wavves belong. There are no sore thumb tracks on V, each song is meticulously crafted and produced.

‘My Head Hurts’ is the Beach Boys influence coming through with a dash of Blink 182 brattiness. The chorus ‘My head hur-ur-ur-ur-urts and without you it’s worse’ sounds like garbage when written down, but set to the instrumentation it’s the kind of song that stays in your head for the next ten weeks. Frontman Nathan Williams even stretches his voice into the territory of shouting, which is something of a surprise, but he carries it off reasonably well. He links ‘brain damage’ to the girl that’s left him, which sounds extreme, but in the world of emotional (dare I say ’emo’) rock music, Williams makes it sound like anybody can relate to his vague, lusty lyrics. He makes it just about easily accessible enough to capture an audience that might not be familiar with Wavves’ brand of surf-rock. As I said before, the furious playing rarely lets up, apart from the stop-starts that Wavves take on ‘Tarantula’ or ‘Redlead’.

When Wavves get weird there are usually some interesting results. ‘Flamezesz’ has a freaky guitar lead which pops up every now and again and rips right through anything else that’s taking place. It’s almost a shame that Wavves don’t throw a few more curveballs into the arena of repetitive pop-punk that they churn out in familiar moulds. The lyrics on the track leave little to be desired, depending on the flames metaphor a little too often. Similarly, many tracks on the album could seem lazy for their repetitive lyrics about someone leaving Williams yet again and how much he wants them back. It’s possibly just a symptom of their move towards the mainstream, without references to surfing, skateboards and drugs. Or more likely, it’s just bad lyricism on the part of Williams, who shouldn’t be expected to knock out poetry any time soon, but suffers from familiar themes that he covers.

At their worst, Wavves sound like (and I’m not exaggerating) a harsher 5 Seconds of Summer. Williams’ delivery is the exact same ‘nyah-nyah’ American tone that wouldn’t go amiss on either 90s Pop-punk or the recent bout of boybands brandishing instruments. Even the instrumentation sounds like something that either Wavves or their idols have made a thousand times before. Listen to ‘Heavy Metal Detox’ and then the next track ‘Way Too Much’ and there’s not much in the way of mixing up the structure or the sound. The instrumentation rarely varies from Wavves’ go-to settings and this leads to a lot of the tracks sounding like the previous one. It’s just a blessing that Wavves cut the album down to a merciful thirty minutes as any more of ‘Heavy Metal Detox’ clones would probably have ruined V.

‘Cry Baby’ is the track that goes the most off-track compared to the rest of V, or at least for the first thirty seconds. After that, Wavves jump into the stop-start technique that they’ve mastered at this point, but there is some deviation from the structure when the guitar actually decides to switch up the sound for a slower bridge which is the closest Wavves get to an actual solo. Wavves have no time for solos, they’re too busy trying to race to the finish of the song that they can barely pack in a verse and a chorus before two minutes is over and they have to call time. Williams sings ‘There’s no reason you and I are friends’ on repeat with the occasional ‘nah-nahs’, pushing against his familiar territory of lyrics. He even returns back to that tantalising shout at the end of the song which wants to make Williams into a screaming maniac, but once again he withdraws before his voice goes.

V is Wavves most accomplished album yet, but it takes cohesiveness and pop appeal at the cost of repetition. Many tracks on tread the same territory, something that isn’t hard considering its short run-length. Williams keeps visiting the same themes and the band can’t help but writing the same songs twelve times. However, despite all this, is a success. Yes, it is very familiar, but it’s so catchy and easy-going you can’t help but appreciate Williams’ knack for a pop song wrapped in punky instrumentation. It’s a consistent, if familiar, package.

7/10

Funnel Recommends: Way Too Much / All The Same / Flamezesz

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