Nathan Williams, better known as Wavves, may have crossed your radar at some point, be it through the media realm of the indie music world, or through his music; either way, Wavves is one of the most buzzed about bands. Back in 2010 he released a full length album, which seemed to take the buzz to a whole new level and his relationship with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino made for his place as the title within his 2010 release: King of the Beach. Now that it’s been a few years and the buzz has died down some, will Nathan Williams come back swinging from the fade?
The answer isn’t so straightforward, as this is decent album, but the honeymoon stage for fans may be long gone. Afraid of Heights begins with some tinkering instrumental, feeding the anticipation of audiences. The first track, “Sail to the Sun” bursts into life quickly, though, the guitar wailing along with Williams’ vocals, as he kicks straight into it. Fast paced and laden with lyrics classical to the California punk lifestyle that Wavves has always explores. It’s a short and sweet track, but reminds audiences that this guy knows how to rock.
Pushing onwards, you’ll find that it’s not all full speed ahead on Afraid of Heights. The second song, “Demon to Lean on” evokes a sound that reminds me of a grungier, wilder, Weezer, which isn’t a bad thing. Tempo slowed, you can focus on the details that Williams has to offer, which include small nuances within the verses. Other strong moments on this album include, “Dog,” which gives listeners a break from blasting guitars and offers a catchy chorus to sing along. Later on, “Cop,” continues this milder, less garage-rock style, with mini-builds inside of it to explode into choruses, but as on “Dog” there aren’t those waves of dominating electric guitar. Some fans may detest this, but Wavves may be gaining some new fans.
What works against Wavves on Afraid of Heights is time—the album just feels long. With songs that are so repetitive and similar to each other, it seems like a few could have been cut from the track list that would have simplified the album and made for a snappier overall sound. Williams’ music gets a bit sluggish toward the end, and so did my interest, which may be the biggest problem for listeners on here.
Regardless of length, there are some excellent garage rock tunes on this album, which should feed the buzz just enough for Wavves.