Wavves - Afraid Of Heights
Wavves’ latest album album mostly ditches the “King of the Beach” surf-punk notions of previous releases for a big, warm, alt-rock embrace that does wonders to highlight the quality of Nathan Williams’ songwriting. “Sail to the Sun” starts out with sparkling synths and moves into a thumping, surging rocker. “Demon to Lean On” is built for rock radio, with a catchy, two-note riff leading into its soaring chorus. It’s reminiscent of mid-’90s radio gems from the likes of Weezer and their brethren, but it’s also smartly built, with watery guitars and castanets seeping beneath the surface of its Pixies-inspired, quiet-to-loud dynamics and Nathan Williams’ paranoid lyrics. After starting out boldly, the album takes dark turns that should please fans of Wavves previous work, including the lo-fi attack of “Mystic,” which buries Williams under stacks of distorted sound before engaging with a singular synth riff. But he always brings it back to some of his hookiest songs yet, like the soaring title track, which makes use of backup vocals by Jenny Lewis and delivers another instantly recognizable, could-be radio hit from 1996. If only all pop-punk, surf-alt or what have you was this catchy, smartly written and unafraid of hooks! Afraid of Heights succeeds as Williams’ clearest bid yet for crossover success, yet it doesn’t sacrifice his essential slackery appeal. File it next to your Dookie, Blue Album and Doolittle records and embrace the fuzzy pop of Afraid of Heights.