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Wavves - Life Sux

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Artist: Wavves

Album: Life Sux

Label: Ghost Ramp

Review date: Sep. 19, 2011

Inconsistency is a major part of Nathan Williams’ anti-charisma. Album No. 1 was unexpected, of-the-moment, and showed some understated potential. Album No. 2 drowned in expectation, overproduction, and a twentysomething’s realization that meltdowns equal headlines. And album No. 3 was a meta-event: it was dead on arrival to half the Internet because of Williams’s antics, and raised high by the other half because that’s what happens if you stick it out to album No. 3.

To be fair, I thought King of the Beach was good. Williams’ songwriting veered closer to pop-punk than most trendy bands would dare. And despite the bored, who-cares stoner character that Williams has played so capably, it seemed pretty fresh. Yes, influences from Blink-182 to Animal Collective shone through, but there was an additive process happening that made it bearable.

Life Sux, however, shows that laziness is still very much the enemy here. And it comes in many flavors, but none more egregious than the penchant for gimmicks. It’s what made Wavvves so terrible, and what has turned so many against Williams personally, and the way it’s crept into this EP is probably the worst yet. The titular chorus to “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” is cute enough given Williams’ proclamation that he wanted King of the Beach to be his Nevermind. What follows is under tempo, unenthusiastic, and generally uninspired. The song is quite literally disposable. No wonder it debuted on MTV.

“Destroy” tries to pull the same trick, but this time the shortcut isn’t via reference but through collaboration. Who better to team up with on a dangerous song than Fucked Up? What follows is so by-the-numbers, it’s insulting. Snarls, growls and overblown guitar riffs pile up in some cheap imitation of what’s supposed to be hard music, but just ends up sounding like a bunch of studio musicians phoning it in. Who would’ve thought that 30 years later hardcore would be possessed by the same detached, professional ennui as any other genre? If Keith Morris weren’t doing the same thing in OFF!, he’d be rolling in his grave.

Which brings us to the bottom of the barrel: “Nodding Off.” This is the “duet” with previously zeitgeisty Best Coast, and one can only imagine that this was a match made in indie A&R heaven (or hell, it’s really just a matter of perspective). There’s nothing new to say about this particular brand of blandness that doesn’t hold true for both “Destroy” and “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl.” Nor is it surprising. What is a bit revelatory, and disappointing, is just how toothless the previously bratty darling of the scene has become. When Williams sings “Don’t call me friend / I’m not your friend,” it’s not because he’s an asshole. It’s because he’s speaking to his girlfriend. Somewhere on his journey to mediocrity, he transformed from a bully you want to hang with sometimes to the kind of guy who feels “stupid and annoyed / waiting for your call.” Which, really, give me a break. How far the mighty have fallen from fist fights with the Black Lips.

By Evan Hanlon

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