Wavves' 2013 album Afraid of Heights was an over-produced, overly gloomy album that coated their previously loose and fun sound in layers of studio sheen. It was such a detour into morose musical melancholy that it seemed nearly impossible for the band to ever get back to their brand of normal. Luckily, anyone who liked what Nathan Williams and his crew did before that record will be glad to know that V is a complete return to form. Working with producer Woody Jackson, and with more songwriting input from the rest of the band, Williams strips away all the murkiness and delivers an 11-song blast of bright and sunny alt-rock with all the punch of earlier albums, but with a newfound sonic power. Lyrically, Williams hasn't figured anything out -- he still sounds like he's riding a pretty strong bummer most of the time -- but he hides his pain behind giant singalong hooks and razor-sharp guitars. The music is so fun and infectious that he could be singing about the worst things on earth and it would still be hard not to air drum along or jump up and down when the chorus hits. In fact, Williams is singing about medical issues a lot of the time -- there are at least two songs about headaches and other maladies, both physical and mental, that give enough reason to be a little worried about his future. For now though, it's enough that he's raging his way through his difficulties with the help of his crack band of sidekicks. Drummer Brian Hill is a hero throughout, pushing the songs along like a tightly wound drill instructor. Bassist Stephen Pope and guitarist Alex Gates also contribute mightily and help make this Wavves' best-sounding record yet. Every song sounds like it was made to be blasted out of a car window in the summertime, and every song is the best kind of pop made of shiny surfaces with a tough crunch of real feels underneath when you bite down. Not many bands are able to rekindle their fire when the flame goes out as drastically as in Wavves' case. V shows that they're one of the few to pull it off, and they even sound better than ever. Even people who thought they were a little too weird or a little too jokey in the past will find themselves charmed by the pure pop songcraft and the jumped-up rock & roll delivery here.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra