Review Summary: wavves bb, r u relevant again??
Nathan Williams uses his musical career as a vehicle for his marijuana use, and that’s just fine. He is hated by many, but he just hides behind the haze of potsmoke and lo-fi production. His last release, King of the Beach, brought his songs out from behind all the fuzzin & buzzin that he is known for, to mixed reaction. To me, it was an album with a couple can’t-miss tracks and a hell of a lot of faux-variety by way of the slower tracks. For his new EP, Life Sux, NateDog keeps the professional production, but ups the effort he puts into songwriting.
My favorite Wavves tracks have always been the collaborations with Zach Hill [http://ghostramp.blogspot.com/2011/03/glued-hula-hoop-goldy-lox.html] because when they came on, I could recognize which song was which instead of just being aurally assaulted by das fuzz. Thankfully, that spirit of individuality has a significant presence on this EP. Wavves has always been a pop band, and for this EP Nathan Williams realized that pop bands live and die based on their songwriting. He has always produced memorable melodies, but often they were so banal or the instrumentation so annoying that their memorability was a curse. Life Sux, thank god, has some songs that you won’t mind getting stuck in your head. The intricacies of “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” are good, so good in fact, that it goes on for five minutes and doesn’t feel long; a huge accomplishment for a Wavves song.
The real highlight here is “Poor Lenore,” where Nathan Williams finally slows down a song without also chopping its balls off (like the slow songs on King of the Beach). Its quiet verse, loud chorus, and vocal-melody-quoting guitar solo are tributes to grunge, but they are tributes done right. Those that don’t like Wavves earlier output should start here. It is the least prototypically Wavves song on Life Sux and its inclusion serves the EP well.
Life Sux feels like Wavves is getting more and more comfortable with producing albums in an actual studio, and the improvement in songwriting that actual production necessitates. Sure, Nathan Williams might be a dickhole in real life, but if he keeps heading this direction than his music might have a chance to make up for it.