Wavves

You're Welcome

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    8
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After a less than pleasant experience releasing their previous album, 2015's V, through Warner Bros., Wavves mainman Nathan Williams decided to move the band over to his own Ghost Ramp label for 2017's You're Welcome and change some things about the recording process. On V, the band had all jammed together in the studio, resulting in their most live-sounding and brightly fun album. This time, Williams began working on his own in the studio, starting the songs off before bringing the rest of the band in one by one to record their parts. With the help of producer Dennis Herring (who had worked with Williams on King of the Beach), he built the songs from samples and weird sounds, giving each one a tangible hook, before adding each bandmember's (still Alex Gates, Stephen Pope, and Brian Hill) contribution. The end result is a deviation from the usual Wavves sound, definitely more of a wonky bedroom pop meets knucklehead alt-rock feel than just a bunch of guys blasting through a batch of songs. As good as V was, it's fascinating to hear this new approach play out. After beginning with a couple of rockers with naggingly sharp slide guitar hooks, the album veers off in one oddball direction after another. It's still super-catchy and fun, like Wavves at their best usually are, but it's warped in a very interesting way. The care Williams and Herring put into the sound of each song, the use of odd samples and sounds, the dynamic tension they make sure each song has -- it all adds up to something a little more impressive than a bunch of songs all played at maximum volume. Sure, there are a couple of knockout rockers, like "Dreams of Grandeur" and "Exercise," but even these have weird little production tricks and glitches that make them really stick. The songs that fully give themselves over to the samples are really fun. "Come to the Valley" is a loping pop song with what sounds like a sample of a vocal choir from the '50s; "I Love You" kicks off with a snippet of an old doo wop song, then segues into a reverb-drenched ballad that sounds like the most honest expression of emotion they've ever put on wax. A couple other highlights are the glittery, '80s-damaged "Million Enemies," where it sounds like Herring whipped out some of the sounds he used when producing Timbuk 3, and the Alex Gates-penned "Animal," which sounds weird in context just by being straightforward indie rock. Nathan Williams could have kept cranking out fun and frothy albums like V with little effort; it's good that he decided to stretch his creative muscles a little on You're Welcome. It's even better that he came up with a smart and compulsively listenable update on the Wavves sound that kept all their rambunctious energy, but also added some fun tricks and treats.

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