After a two-year hiatus, San Diego band Wavves comes crashing back into the summer music scene with its sixth studio release You’re Welcome. The album produced a solid five singles, all with the same garage-band feel familiar to listeners of Best Coast, Beach Fossils, and Surfer Blood (I’m picking up on a theme here).
I gave You’re Welcome a first listen while on a drive home to my and the band’s shared hometown of San Diego — definitely the best setting in which to enjoy a little Southern California surf-punk. Whether you’ve ever listened to the music in a skateboarding montage or never listened to Wavves’ previous discography, you may have an idea of what kind of vibe to expect: loud, chaotic, and yet still sunny enough to listen to on the beach. The album’s rambunctious opening track, “Daisy,” asserts a key tenet of surf culture: “Despite what it might be/I’m not worrying/I’m not worrying.”
The music video for the album’s single “Million Enemies” features lead singer Nathan Williams in an understated glitter and leather getup, magically adapting his slacker-rock sound to a fuzzy bit of late-70s teenage angst. “I got enemies, a million enemies/Living in the streets tonight,” Parker chants. This is a day-and-night shift from the band’s usual videographic angle, but the song is rambunctious and fun enough to keep me hooked.
After a heavy and synth-afflicted “Hollowed Out,” “Come To The Valley” breaks up the cacophony of the album as a chipper little jingle for (presumably) the San Fernando Valley. ”Bathe in the sun/And wash your pretty hair/We’ve already won/There’s no need for despair,” Williams sings, reminding us that life is good when all you get to do is get high on the beach.
“Come to the Valley” and “I Love You” impart strong Beach Boys vibes, finger snapping and repetitive choruses included. “Stupid in Love” is a standard pop-punk anthem, with lyrics reminiscing over a dumb young love. I appreciate the production on this track, as it leans to a slightly more psychedelic feel than other songs do.
“You’re Welcome” and “Under” seem to be the throwaway tracks of the album, lost in the noise of the stronger and catchier songs.“Dreams of Grandeur,” much like most of the album, is fun if you don’t pay attention to the limp and repetitive songwriting (“Room to breathe/All I need/All I need/All I need”).
As a whole, You’re Welcome remains true to the grimy surfer aesthetic unique to Wavves’ San Diego roots; beachy and lighthearted without sounding like something that would play inside the depths of a Hollister store. Upon first listen, the last few tracks trail off — past “Under,” the album begins to lose my interest, the songs blending together into the raucous background of heavy drums and a muted guitar.
With You’re Welcome, Wavves succeeds at taking the small-town garage band aesthetic and energizing it to a broader audience with a heavier rock sound. I’m not sure if this is Wavves trying something new or not, and there is little to be said about the depth of songwriting (smoking weed and wasting away by the beach are always safe bets) and structure. The album barely makes it past being monotonous. Previous records from Wavves sound much more like the pop punk you used to listen to during your cool-kid phase in high school, but the slacker attitude remains strong on You’re Welcome.
Following the release of You’re Welcome, Wavves announced they will be supporting Blink-182 on late spring/early summer tour dates.