Wavves: V (Ghost Ramp, Warner, 2015)


El quinto trabajo de la banda de Nathan Williams en realidad no nos sorprende lo más mínimo porque no se ha salido ni un milímetro de la fórmula que le ha encumbrado como uno de esos iconos Indie que de vez en cuando se asoman a las plataformas Major y a algún que otro medio de comunicación masivo de esos que se entretienen en cubrir eventos de moda o retratar vidas de adolescentes irreverentes en vez de volver a sus planteamientos musicales iniciales.
La monserga viene a cuento de contaros que V es un trabajo que no desentona en ningún momento y que nos muestra a un Williams inspirado, con esos estribillos instántaneos y esas canciones petardeantes que se adhieren a tu oído como goma de mascar. El envoltorio: el Pop abigarrado y con toques Punkies de siempre, guitarras distorsionadas y un sentido ácido del humor que continúa enganchando.
¿Para qué más?

“In July, Nathan Williams became the latest musician to show you can take the boy out of indie but you can’t take the indie out of the boy: He got in a fight with his major label. Williams uploaded “Way Too Much”, a single from his then-untitled new album, to SoundCloud, only to see Warner Bros. take it down. Without disclosing Warner’s motivation behind the takedown, he implied the label was threatening to sue him, and wrote, “Its so obnoxious to work tirelessly on something and then have a bunch of ppl who just see me as a money sign go and fuck it all up.”
On this, Warner was right: V is definitely not a record that’s going to make them a lot of money. That would require Williams writing the pop-punk crossover LP of his career—a little more Paramore, a little less Psychedelic Horseshit. Instead, what we have is an angry collection of songs more indebted to his recent collaboration with Cloud Nothings and the brute-force approach of his earlier releases, where punk catharsis was achieved by saying the same lyric over and over. (Say “I’m so bored” five times fast and you, in fact, will feel bored.)
V was inspired by a breakup, as well as the band’s hellaciously bad habits: 100 beers and two bottles of Jameson a night for the four-piece group, a period of “just drinking, straight drinking,” as Williams says in the album’s press materials. Accordingly, V sounds like a hangover. Every song starts somewhere dismal, and ends up somewhere that’s only a little hopeful—a process akin to the recovery from a hangover, when by the end you’re mostly happy not to be drooling and vomiting on yourself. Multiple tracks refer to headaches both physical and spiritual. Williams’ budget has outsized the lo-fi recordings he made his name with, but he hasn’t deviated much from the core formula. Though there’s room for easy-breezy surf rock (“Heavy Metal Detox”), insistent riffage (“Flamezesz”, “Pony”), and shuddering sounds ripped from a horror movie (“Redlead”), the predominant aesthetic is dirty and discordant backed by big harmonies—the sweet spot from which all memorable Wavves songs emerge.
It’s a faster record, too: V abandons Williams’ previous attempts at balladry, with all slow moments preceding the eventual assault. At times, the pace works to his advantage. Williams writes a killer hook, and it’s easy to hear crowds slamming along to the feel-bad vibes of “Heavy Metal Detox”,  “All the Same”, “Way Too Much”, and “My Head Hurts”. A line like “I lost my job today, but it’s all the same” (“All the Same”) is delivered much more happily than “It gets better” (“Pony”), a reminder that he’s better reveling in angst than trying to convince us it doesn’t matter.
When he leans into his ennui, V achieves momentarily thrilling peaks. Williams is a child of singers like Billie Joe Armstrong and Tom DeLonge, pop-punk brats great at sounding snotty next to a massive chorus. The best songs remind you of his keen ability for penning sonically fractured, melodically appealing “woe-is-me” anthems that won’t bruise you too badly in the pit. (The best songs were written with the other members of the band, too, suggesting a necessary camaraderie.)
Still, V is a slight regression from the subtle growth he showed on 2013’s Afraid of Heights. Songs like “Demon to Lean On” and “Cop” weren’t just excellent songs—they showed the crystallization of the Wavves project into something mature, a word that’s rarely been used to describe Williams or his music. V will make you think he’s lapsed back to his #worstbehavior. Take a characteristic line like “Everything sucks if you don’t get your way” from “Tarantula”—it’s like he fell through a portal from 2009, and is back to playing the perpetual brat. V is a perfectly capable record, one that showcases what we’ve come to expect—and in many cases, enjoy—from Williams and his band. Even so, you wonder where else they might have gone” (Pitchfork)

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