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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
V

Record Routine: Wavves breathe life into pop-punk genre

Wavves’ Nathan Williams is not ready to grow up. On the contrary, he seems to want nothing more than to Benjamin Button back to ninth grade where he can bask in all of his confused, bored, self-doubting teenage glory. Fortunately for us, this contradicting adult-teen-angst makes for fantastic songwriting, showcased in every pop-punk, noise rock infused minute of Wavves’ fifth installment, V.

I first heard a number of the songs on V at Wavves’ show here in Madison last week. Williams played to the Majestic’s crowd of intoxicated students with perfection, gulping down a bottle of red wine between every upbeat new track with a belligerently fun and crazed delivery. I was thrilled to see Wavves return to the sunny 2010 King of the Beach vibes that were shadowed on 2013’s darker Afraid of Heights.

But at second (and sober) listen, I found that beneath the beachy, youthful melodies on V, Williams goes into some pretty dark internal battles that make you contemplate whether the emotional rocker is spiraling toward a crushing rock bottom. The opening track, “Heavy Metal Detox,” has an uplifting, anthem-like feel to it. That is, until you discover Williams questioning his existence, “Have I lived too long?”; his sanity, “Why does my head hurt?” and his overall well-being, “I’m getting worse.” He continues the struggle of everyday life in “Way Too Much,” where his inability to handle the pressure has him “Slowly sinking into nothing ... Just like you knew I would.”

“Pony” is one of the best tracks on the album, combining infatuation with disgust for a refreshing take on modern romance. “All the Same” then goes back to the confusing combination of peppy vocals with depressing lyrics. “I crashed my car today driving in the rain” could easily be replaced with “I drove my car to the beach on a sunny day” and be a perfect opener for a 2004 filler episode of “The O.C.” He also continues to sing about his painful head, which comes to its peak in “My Head Hurts,” an ode to a girl who makes him feel a little bit better about everything, but also still makes his life a living hell because pretty much everything does.

“Redlead” opens the heavier half of V, the distorted riffs and choppy lyrics finally depicting the subject matter of the album appropriately. “Heart Attack” introduces an interesting combination of acoustic power chords and pop-punk vocals. “Flamezesz,” though the only song that explicitly uses the word “suicide” instead of just implying it, is probably the most lighthearted track on the album. “Wait,” “Tarantula” and “Cry Baby” finish out the album on a lighter note with themes such as watching someone drown, toxic waste and eyeball-eating nightmares.

Though at times it seems slightly overdramatic, V does a fantastic job of keeping Wavves at the top of the lo-fi movement as well as proving that pop-punk is alive and well. It’s a one of a kind album that you can easily throw down to Saturday night and reevaluate your life to Sunday morning. 

Grade: B+

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