Wavves: V (Ghost Ramp)

US alt. rock crew ditch the lo-fi pretence to deliver sharp indie pop on fifth LP

Released Oct 1st, 2015 via Ghost Ramp / By Liam Whear
Wavves: V (Ghost Ramp) In 2015, it’s fairly harmless to say ‘Wavves are a good band’. It’s been five years since they broke through with King Of The Beach, after a couple of years of releases that earned them much scorn. Frontman Nathan Williams was painted as a slacker stoner loser, phoning in indie cred with lo-fi production and lazy songwriting. Probably because he was a slacker stoner loser with phoned-in songwriting. But King Of The Beach turned the psychedelia-flavoured haze of the first two albums into the likes of the 60s girl-group tune of ‘When Will You Come’. The songwriting turned into navel-gazing grunge-pop anthems, which he fully explored on 2013’s Afraid Of Heights, a fantastic collection of towering, anxious punk-pop anthems.

V is full of the same stoner anxieties that’s painted all of Williams’ recordings. But after spending one last time playing around with lo-fi psychedelia on his collab album with Cloud Nothings earlier this year, all that’s left is pure pop. Gone are the guitar crunch that elevated Afraid Of Height’s anthems. Instead, V is just fast power-pop tune after fast power-pop tune. Bright, motorik-esque drums and swirling guitars colour every song. ‘Heavy Metal Detox’ is in debt to The Hives and the Buzzcocks, while ‘Redlead’ has strange hallmarks of early Joy Division.

Every song has the same verse-chorus-verse pattern, and every song has the same Nathan Williams hallmark of repeated lines and drawn-out vocals, desperate to make that pop hook. And that’s the clincher with V, Williams’ earnest attempts at creating a simple pop album. Earlier albums, while fantastic in their own rights, were heightened because of the relatable anxious slacker vibes that coated Williams’ songwriting. While Williams still retains this aesthetic, the pop sheen forces the listener to pay more attention to the punchy, quick songwriting.

While it certainly hasn’t the lofty pop ambition of this year’s E•MO•TION by Carly Rae Jepsen, or even the accidental genius of Nirvana’s Nevermind, V’s merits lie in it not trying to be anything other than what it is. Thirty-one minutes of razor-sharp power-pop. If five years ago people were rushing to call Nathan Williams a faker and a try-hard, well, maybe those words finally got to him here.