Wavves Afraid of Heights

WavvesAfraid of Heights
Following Nathan Williams' 2009 public breakdown, few would have guessed that the San Diego artist would still be making music in 2013, let alone pumping out records as insanely catchy as Afraid of Heights. "I don't whan-na," he whines on opener "Sail to the Sun," laying to rest fears that King of the Beach's success might have tempered his bratty attitude. It's pervasive throughout the record, which hits on lyrical themes of boredom, paranoia and self-loathing. Lacking his last offering's frantic pace, Williams channels the titans of mid-'90s alt-rock, like Green Day and especially Weezer — the massive Blue Album guitars are all over the record. Despite a year in the studio, on Williams' dime, there's still a nice lo-fi vibe to the album. What's improved is Williams' ear for layering sounds. Many thought (feared?) that his sojourn into hip-hop production with his brother as Sweet Valley would alter the group's sound, but its effect is more indirect. There's much going on beneath those walls of big, distorted guitars — just listen to the sampled noise on "Everything is My Fault" or "Hi Getting Hi." With Afraid of Heights, Williams has achieved a rare type of punk rock maximalism, crafting a massive, buzzy record on his terms. (Mom + Pop)