[Fat Possum; 2010]

After two consecutive lo-fi albums, Wavves’ new record, King of the Beach takes a new direction under the wing of acclaimed producer Dennis Herring, whose past work has included such names as Modest Mouse and Mute Math. Unlike on Wavves’ past albums, Williams is accompanied by Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes, former touring band of Jay Reatard.

As a result, Nathan Williams’ former sound of 1960s grit is reshaped into an explosive, melodic, and aggressive pop record that is sure to be the soundtrack to many listeners’ summers.

The first track, “King of the Beach,” illustrates what Wavves is best known for. It begins with a bouncing guitar part reminiscent of late 1990s surf punk, yet could also serve as the theme song for a teen sitcom à la “Saved by The Bell,” or “California Dreams.” That said, the track shines in the best possible way as a result of its malleability, that is, Williams’s uncanny knack for making gritty and loud sound smooth and catchy.

As the record unfolds, it becomes clear that Williams has developed the new sound he’s talked so much about in the press leading up to the release. The track “When Will You Come” sounds stuck somewhere between a children’s song and Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion. In an experimental sense, it is definitely a different direction from past Wavves releases, though not necessarily in the right direction.

Following “When Will You Come,” is another electronic track, “Baseball Cards,” which truly shines in its production. From warm synth to the catchy chorus repeating, “I don’t want to walk outside,” the abundant amount of reverb, delay, and hand clapping is sure to make any Wavves fan sway.

In terms of stand out tracks, the first single “Post Acid” stands on top when it comes to the pop sensibility Wavves is known for. You can’t help but bop your head up and down as Williams sings “won’t you understand, that I’m just having fun with you,” creating a catchy chorus which only this audacious front man could pull off.

Yet, the track that truly embraces Williams’ growth as an artist is “Green Eyes.” This track in particular shows not only a more intimate and mellow side of Williams’ writing style, but also embraces dynamics and movements that build the track from beginning to end. With smooth bells mirroring the vocals, electronic as well as acoustic drum blends, and dynamic guitars, this track is quite possibly the best indication of a “new-and-improved” Wavves.

Though King of the Beach in some regards, lacks true innovation in the current music scene, it still stands strong as an impressive album. Although the album is fun to listen to for its catchy summery vibes, it contains the youthful edginess of a modern Beach Boys gone punk. Ultimately, this record is a step forward for Wavves and a quality record that deserves the attention it has and hopefully will receive.