Track Review — Wavves “King of the Beach”

“King of the Beach,” Wavves. On January 13, 2010 Jay Reatard was found dead in his Memphis home from a cocaine and alcohol overdose. By August, lead singer Nathan Williams and his backing band — which includes both the drummer and bassist from Reatard’s former band — released Wavves’ second album King of the Beach. Opener, “King of the Beach,” is a roaring, bright, blistering punk song with a chorus that imitates bravado (“you’re never gonna stop me”). We’re fairly certain you could substitute “it ain’t gonna save me” into the chorus and you’d have almost the exact same song. Which is probably why Wavves’ version is so morbidly appealing, functioning as a precise inversion of Reatard’s Watch Me Fall album-opening observation that he is beyond help, beyond it — for Williams, it (the medicine) transforms into you (the poison).

While “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” served retrospectively as an ominous little death-note after Reatard passed away, “King of the Beach” seems positively boisterous except for the song’s bridge — at that point a deep, dark bassline slips confidently into the foreground and bounces forward. It’s pure Unknown Pleasures and rightly so, what with all the death already lingering around “King of the Beach,” why not add a little mid-song taste of Ian Curtis’ legendary suicide, if not to just fuck with listeners? If only Nathan Williams sounded a little bit like Kurt Cobain. Oh wait, he does.

But there’s no reason to think Wavves are necessarily suicidal, what with the pompous lyrics and beach kingdom, there’s nothing depressing here. Williams already pried the crown of catchy punk from Reatard’s dead fingers. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how long he can hold onto it. Don’t be surprised when the next Ty Segall album is titled “Regicide.”

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  • AMF Mag

    Started in early 2011, AMF Magazine is a collective of post-college writers living in California. AMF was created to provide a forum for discussion of contemporary music and to give praise where praise is due.
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