Wavves have certainly come a long way since their eponymous debut album, mostly in the wrong direction. Lo-fi production has been utilised by the band to a lesser degree with every passing album, and now we find ourselves at a point where “V”, their latest album, is about as streamlined and innocuous as it’s possible for an indie-rock album to be. Add to this the fact that the songs are so interchangeable that I struggled to name more than three after a first listen and you have an album that I am struggling to praise.
Admittedly there are some fairly catchy tunes on show here that eventually stuck with me on further listening. “Way Too Much” has a carefree beauty to it, as well as a driving beat that manages to grasp the listeners attention, even if it is predictable from the beginning. My favourite song from the album is quite probably “Pony” the latest single released by the band before dropping the album. The guitar carries impactful weight in this song that was crucially lacking on the rest of the album, and Nathan Williams’s vocals aren’t quite as grating here.
But even these songs are still conforming rigidly to a pre-determined formula, and do absolutely nothing to distract from this blatant fact. “My Head Hurts” is really plumbing the depths in terms of lyrics, “I bet she doesn’t know my name” being the kind of lyric you’d expect from Blink-182, although in fairness they almost certainly wouldn’t be taking themselves this seriously.
It’s rare that I struggle this much to find criticisms for an album, but this one is so middle of the road, bland, generic and calculated that I can’t even distinguish individual characteristics to criticise. “Flameezesz” is perhaps the only other song worth discussing, as it ruins it’s small amount of potential by dragging it’s chorus and riff out to a point where they become a chore to try to grind through them.
Previous albums have proven Wavves are capable of so much more than this. “Wavvves” was seething with punk rock energy, and “King of the Beach” was as quirky as it was intelligent. But this album is proof that Wavves thrive on chaos, and the computed rigidity of “V” is simply substandard. I can’t recommend that you listen to anything from this album, bar maybe the a handful of singles. I would recommend the majority of their previous work however.