Wavves Are Smarter Than They Get Credit for, and 'Hideaway' Proves It

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jul 12, 2021

Nathan Williams probably doesn't get enough credit for his songwriting savvy. He pigeonholed Wavves early on with slacker punk anthems with titles like "So Bored" and "Idiot" — but he has also showed a talent for giddy Animal Collective impersonations, Beach Boys harmonies, weirdo circus ditties, and beat-driven side-projects.

That chameleonic talent for different styles comes to the fore on Hideaway, which at least somewhat tones down the pop-punk crunch of recent albums You're Welcome and V. This time around, Williams — along with bassist Stephen Pope and guitarist Alex Gates — dabbles in '60s pop classicism on the waltzing "Hideaway" and the jangling, "sha-la"-filled "Honeycomb." They experiment with a traditional country gallop on the twangy "The Blame," and close the album with the swaying slow-dance of the keyboard-led "Caviar."

And on "Sinking Feeling," the band finally make good on all those times they've been mislabeled as "surf rock" (because singing about the beach is not the same thing as being surf rock) by layering in Ventures-style guitar leads with brisk acoustic strums and reverb-y arpeggios.

Yes, there are still the usual pop-punk bangers: Williams does a spot-on impression of American Idiot-era Billie Joe Armstrong on opening track "Thru Hell," and "My Prize" has a happy-go-lucky bounce that recalls Wavves' old buds Best Coast. As usual for Wavves, the lyrics deal with paranoia, depressing, and a sense of malaise that's low on specific details and heavy on lines like "Hiding hate away / It's like a river wants to drown, drown, down me."

But even when Wavves tread some familiar territory, the nine-song album is so short and peppy that it whooshes by like a refreshing ocean breeze. Pretty good for a landlord!
(Fat Possum)

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