You’re Welcome is the new album release from Californian surf-rock quartet Wavves, but will we be grateful for the tunes they’re providing…
Wavves started in 2008 as the recording project of Nathan Williams. He released several 7″s as well as a cassette leading up to the first release, Wavves. After gaining recognition, Ryan Ulsh was enlisted as a touring drummer and they embarked on their first US and European tours. Wavves released their self-titled debut album in 2008, subsequently drawing the attention of Pitchfork Media. At the time, the band consisted of guitarist Nathan Williams and drummer Ryan Ulsh, who replaced Baby Animal during production. Their second full-length album Wavvves was released on February 3, 2009.
The band has not had the easiest of runs however, having their fair share of issues for such a young band. Singer Nathan Williams experienced a public breakdown as the band was unable to complete their set at the 2009 Barcelona Primavera Sound Festival. Williams, who admitted he had taken a cocktail of ecstasy and Valium, fought with drummer Ryan Ulsh and insulted the Spanish crowd, who then pelted him with bottles. Apologising for their performance, Williams admitted the next day that he was addicted to alcohol. As a result, the band cancelled the remainder of their European tour.
“Daisy” is the slightly discordant surf rock ballad with reverb-drenched vocals that bursts straight into life as the opening song of the album. It’s somewhat confusing and a lot is packed into a song less than 3 minutes in duration, but it’s certainly a wake up for the rest of the album and there are some lyrics that wouldn’t be amiss in a Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song as well (“my polar bear don’t do what he’s told”). A song that later mirrors this punky, energetic blend is “Exercise”, which appears much later in the album as if to provide the boost to carry us through the last few songs of the album.
Several tracks later in the album, “Hollowed Out” follows in a similar vein with shimmery Beach Boys-style guitar, complemented with a more growling, driven bass guitar which aids to balance the song. Nathan Williams’ vocals remain interesting, dropping from a truer rock singer into what can be described as moaning in spoken word sections, but it does add an unexpected impact to the more punk-fuelled sections of the song.
“You’re Welcome” is the title track of the album, and it is an interesting one. With a sound that can only be described (by this reviewer at least) as psychedelic grunge. Loaded with distorted guitars, the song still feels as though a surfer/hippy group got hold of a Nirvana album and just ran with it. It probably shouldn’t work but it just about manages it.
Short and sweet at only a minute and forty six seconds long, “No Shade” seems to try and emulate the legendary Ty Segall with typical growling guitars, nonsensical lyrics and choppy drums and bass, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. However, the song leads gaplessly into the much longer “Million Enemies”, which retains the same distorted guitar and choppy, lo-fi, grungey sound. The latter of the two songs is far more structured within its near four minute running time and allows the band to explore more lyrically and structurally.
“Animal”, “Dreams of Grandeur” and “Stupid In Love” all seem to channel a deep similarity to fellow surfer-rock band, Surfer Blood which may explain why this reviewer couldn’t get on board with this particular trio of songs (if you, dear reader, have read my Surfer Blood review, you may understand) but the simplistic and frankly dull structure with agitating vocals is not a winning combination here (the “la-la-la” section from Stupid In Love will stick right in your head).
“Under” is the surprise track of the album, appearing near the end of the record. The song starts off with a very quiet, very subtle slide guitar that you’d find lilting away in the background of a Spongebob Squarepants scene but sporadically jumps into heavy, bass filled hooks. You’re Welcome feels tiring at points, and the album could’ve done with more songs like this, with it’s under three minute length.
“I Love You” tails the album off with a slower, almost balladic feeling. The song is loaded with sparkling, slow strummed guitars and for once, the effects-laden reverberated vocals feel at home in a song that could have been drawn out of the crooner era. The slow, sliding solo isn’t too awful either. A random interjection of thundering drums in the final moments of the song and off-key strings however, manage to drop the song dead.
Despite the title of the final song, “love” is not a mutual feeling here. You’re Welcome is disjointed and feels overproduced, particularly in the vocals. The album has a couple of decent summery songs common to the surf-rock genre but ultimately is a fairly uninteresting work that will sit under the larger indie umbrella.
Author: Steve, Southgate Store