In 2009, after releasing one of the most over-hyped albums in recent memory, Wavves mastermind Nathan Williams imploded onstage during the Primavera Sound Festival in Spain. The outburst was an obnoxious display, fueled by drugs and alcohol, and suggested an entitled media darling feeling the pressure.
Inexplicably, Wavves did not dissolve. Instead, the group has released an appealing follow-up, King of the Beach. The album, uneven as it is, is characterized by the kind of bouncy, quality pop that was noticeably absent on Williams' atonal previous output.
King of the Beach is bookended by two major accomplishments: the loud-soft, carefree thrash of "King of the Beach," and the spaghetti Western-cum-distortion breeziness of "Baby Say Goodbye." Unfortunately, the album tempers the excitement of these highs with off-key stabs at hazy pop, like "When Will You Come," and worse yet, "Mickey Mouse," an egregiously bad riff on Animal Collective's electro-pop. The album works best when it manages Williams' stoned fancies—at upcoming shows, Wavves will be selling custom "weed grinders" (seriously).
When not lost in the haze, however, Williams' creative impulses are enjoyable. The gentle, spacey guitar strums and lilting lyricism of "Green Eyes" warp into funneling rock and caustic takedowns ("my old friends / hate me / but I don't give a shit") that make for an exciting listen.
Lyrically, King of the Beach straddles two extremes: woe is me and playing the villain. The latter (see above) is far more enjoyable, as the former is too self-pitying to work as redemptive or interesting.