Release Date: Sep 20, 2011
Record label: Ghost Ramp
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Noise-Rock
Low-fi brat Nathan Williams' new EP hinges on the chipper single "I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl," a typically concise blast of thick surf-pop guitars, laconically distorted vocals and singsong refrain. The idolatry makes sense: The San Diego native shares Grohl's knack for blending volatile punk and pop hooks. Williams keeps impressive company on this follow-up to last year's sensational King of the Beach: Beth Cosentino of Best Coast sings Pixies-style harmonies on "Nodding Off," and he howls along with Fucked Up on "Destroy," which is full of hardcore screams and little else.
Looking back at Wavves’ career, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Nathan Williams. There’s a long list of reasons to hate Wavves beginning with Williams’ well-documented petulance, which may have contributed to Wavves’ revolving door of bandmates—which definitely contributed to a period of inconsistency and false-starts between 2009’s Wavvves and 2010’s King of the Beach. And that’s to say nothing of that famous meltdown at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival in 2009, when then-drummer Ryan Ulsh (now of Virginia’s excellent Super Vacations) dumped a well-deserved beer on Williams’ head and stormed off stage.
King of the Beach was a quantum leap for Wavves, but not so much for Nathan Williams. In the context of the monochrome, fuck-all noise of Wavvves, it was easier to stomach an attitude that hovered somewhere between high, hungover, and hateful. What pissed off a lot of people was the way he could broaden his sonic palette and galvanize his songwriting without even the slightest attitude adjustment: The world would have to start taking him seriously, and it was abundantly clear he had no plans to return the favor.
Wavves’ violently skuzzy take on surf rock has always leaned toward pop punk, but it’s especially evident on their latest release, Life Sux. From “Bug”’s opening na-na-na-na guitar licks, the EP sticks to the band’s historically Phil Spector-influenced rhythmic arrangements. But Life Sux, the first release off frontman Nathan Williams’ own Ghost Ramp label, comes close to his claim that “these are the best songs I’ve ever recorded.” The album’s brevity contributes to the feeling that it’s tighter and cleaner than King of the Beach.