By David Malitz
Nathan Williams is not a complicated dude. The 24-year-old San Diego indie rocker, who records as Wavves, is mostly obsessed with the beach and just generally chillaxin'. His first two albums were especially uncomplicated - two chords per song, extra fuzzy GarageBand home recordings and, voila, he's the toast of blogville. Well, at least until the backlash hit.
"King of the Beach" is his largely successful attempt to escape the lo-fi foxhole. Brawny guitars replace staticky screeches, juicy hooks don't have to fight through muddy murk and the result sounds like a time capsule from mid-'90s alternative rock radio instead of a stoned kid killing time in his bedroom. The latter has its charms but Williams's songs are better served with this new dynamic kick.
He's even working the Gen X angst angle, peppering his tunes with self-loathing lyrics. "My own friends hate my guts / So what, who gives a [expletive]?" he moans on "Green Eyes." It's hard to buy Williams as completely miserable; he's always been a bit of a downer but likely just got bored with singing about being bored. Now he has more in common with the aw-shucks depression of Blink-182, both musically and lyrically.
Wavves' wheelhouse is still centered around pop-punk nuggets such as the title track, but his reach has expanded to include percussion-heavy, blippier fare ("Mickey Mouse," "Baseball Cards") without sacrificing any instant gratification. It's hard to argue Williams is growing up, but he is certainly getting better.
Recommended tracks: "King of the Beach," "Baseball Cards," "Mickey Mouse"