All hail the shitty recording. Nearly everything counterculture has been pillaged and repackaged, but the shitty recording remains a floodwall against wider mainstream acceptance. With the new crop of in-the-red punkers, from Vivian Girls to Times New Viking and now Wavves, a harsher, more contemporary take on "lo-fi" has advanced.
It's clear from Wavvves that Nathan Williams, aka Wavves, is well versed in the art. His one-man-band excursions brim with distorted drums and preamp-killing guitars. Like other well-blogged contemporaries, he seeks an ideal somewhere between Edison's wax cylinder and an abandoned cassette frying in the sun. Plenty of sun in San Diego, where Williams holes up in his parents' pool house, crafting his stoner (and notably nonsurfer) pop gems, largely four-on-the-floor verse-chorus-verse garage throwdowns with repeated refrains and simple girl-group or Beach Boys melodic decorations. Williams can write a helluva hook, too. After a crispy keyboard introduction, "Beach Demon" bursts out with tambourine-assisted garage bounce and a chorus of nihilistic self-fulfilling prophecy: "going nowhere" on repeat. "So Bored" is a quick favorite, a stomping slacker anthem complete with distorted falsettos. "Beach Goth" recalls the Jesus and Mary Chain in its fried surf-rock lilt, and "Weed Demon" lays off-kilter harmonies over an almost-tuned guitar.
With his second album, Williams has wrapped up his millennial ennui in a Vice-friendly veneer of tooth-gnashing distortion. Wavvves proves that fuzzy fidelity remains the purest way to deliver pop gems without laying your nerves bare or showing your cards. Let's hope he doesn't start trying too hard.