Wavves has always been a punk band that sounds like they’re on the verge of imploding. Since the late ‘00s, back when the project was just the brainchild of frontman Nathan Williams, the singer has never shied away from his vices. Those habits (namely a penchant for drinking and smoking copious amounts of weed) have informed his writing for better or worse. But on the latest album from the band, You’re Welcome, is it possible that Williams has grown up? Wavves still keep their sun-soaked, stoned-out sound, but the songwriting here is more diverse than on past releases. Here, the kid who once sang about being “so bored” deals with weightier topics than simply wondering when he’ll catch his next high.
Opener “Daisy” plays like a battle cry. And it’s no shocker given the contentious split the band went through with their old label Warner Brothers (You’re Welcome is self-released on Williams’ Ghost Ramp label). “They’re shooting at me/ grinning through their teeth/ not hitting a thing,” the 30-year-old frontman sings coolly over a familiar surf-punk beat and grinding guitars. Though potent, “Daisy” might be the most traditional Wavves offering here. Overall, You’re Welcome is a sonic shock to the band’s template. There’s a noticeable theatricality in much of the production, particularly the straight-out-of-left-field “Come To The Valley”, which is more indebted to Ariel Pink than the guitar crunch of Weezer or Nirvana. Elsewhere, “Million Enemies” features a rumbling bass under Williams’ layered vocals making the song a fuzz-drenched stadium stomper.
You’re Welcome has less of a breakneck pace and is far more experimental than 2015’s V, but the band’s punk spirit is far from gone. “No Shade” and “Excersize” sprint by, with the former being one of the fastest Wavves songs in their canon toward its finale. The verses on “Under” use spartan drum sequencers hearkening back to songs from King of the Beach. The use of electronics alters the standard rock band arrangements and the ensuing static complements the other instruments. In a similar vein, the slightly maudlin closer “I Love You” is rescued by an ending that combines spaced-out electro strings with chugging guitars.
Lyrics aren’t the main attraction of You’re Welcome, but with Williams turning 31 next month, it’s evident that his songwriting is maturing alongside him. “Paradise is lost/ Now I just pray to live long,” the frontman sings on “Dreams of Grandeur”, one of the heaviest sentiments captured on a Wavves record. Williams is starting to look at the bigger picture and not just at the beer he’s guzzling. Still, this isn’t Wavves’ “mature” album, as there’s plenty of youthful fun to be had and the band’s carefree, mischievous spirit still courses through the majority of these songs. After all, Wavves’ music has always been tailor-made for hazy summer days (and nights) and this record doesn’t disappoint on that front either. But altogether, this is the sound of the former King of the Beach aging gracefully. Or as gracefully as this punk can manage.
Essential Tracks: “Daisy”, “No Shade”