BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS
Honestly, I don’t know what to think of the latest offering from Nathan Williams and Stephen Pope aka Wavves. Afraid of Heights is a good record if you like sugary coated, 90’s revival alt-rock with a dark energy that signifies nothing. I guess I’m just indifferent.
I do not hate this record nor do I hate Wavves. I think the Life Sux ep with the clever “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” was a good listen but after four releases, the Wavves “sound” is being stretched thin. There are new wave and 90’s alternative influences dripping from every distorted guitar chord and drumbeat on Afraid. The comparisons to Weezer, Green Day, Devo, Nirvana , They Might Be Giants, the Descendents and the lesser known For Squirrels will be unavoidable to any rock fan over thirty that snubbed Poison for The Pixies.
The first single “Sail to the Sun” is a rather good song that sounds as warm as a day at the beach with a good buzz going. The expansive haze surrounding it undoubtedly is the influence that girlfriend Bethany Costentino of Best Coast has on Williams. Maybe he’s finally happy? Maybe he’s trying to expand his musical horizons? Maybe he’s just really high? Whatever the reason, “Sail to the Sun” works.
Not everything on Afraid of Heights is so lucky. “Beat Me Up” falls short, coming on like a Descendents skate punk tune with a 1960’s girl group split personality. “Lunge Forward”, while good, is little more than Green Dayesque pop punk with just a splash of surfer bro thrown in for good measure. Do you get where I’m going with this? There are few, if any, original ideas on Afraid of Heights. If you’ve heard The Breeders, The Vapors, Nirvana or Best Coast you’ve heard Afraid of Heights. The good moments here, “Everything is My Fault,” “Demon to Lean on” and “Cop” are, sadly, overshadowed by the presence of the band’s influences. Afraid of Heights is ok, it’s Wavves most sophisticated, it’s fun for one or two spins on a sunny day and the duo due take a few chances but at the end of the day, the thing that Wavves are most afraid of isn’t heights, its originality.
DOWNLOAD: “Sail To the Sun” “Everything is my Fault”