Matias: Before talking about Wavves’ fifth album “v”, I baked a cake, do you want some?
Arnaud: Is THIS eatable?
Matias: It’s a shortbread cookie with dulche de leche. I cooked it the whole afternoon.
Arnaud: Well, it looks very tasty but I’m not that hungry right now… So, what about this
Matias: I have to say I had a real sense of dread before listening to this new Wavves’ album because I’m not a big fan of the band. Actually, not at all. I maybe don’t know enough about them to judge correctly their music but in my opinion, they’ve always been a Californian teenager band, tailored for the “American Pie” OST. All their previous LP were the same for me. I was not feeling anything. The only reason why I wanted to give a try to this new album was because I heard “Way Too Much” on HighClouds and I totally loved it! The only track that was worthy before “v” was “Afraid Of Heights”, but just because the clip was good. But with “v”, I changed my mind.
Arnaud: I understand your concern. I have to admit Wavves always reminded me bands such as Blink 182 or The Offspring which were very popular when I was a teenager. By the way, Wavves’ singer Nathan Williams is born in 1986, like me. He said himslef he was liking Blink 182 and quotes them as a musical influence without any shame. Moreover, it smells Californian rock from kilometers away, but I don’t think this is necessary a bad point. It is not a coincidence that he is close to Bethany Consentino from the band Best Coast. They are the contemporary leaders of this musical genre that makes you feel like summer will never end. But I don’t agree with you when you say all their albums sound the same. You can hear clear shades but I think this is another debate.
Matias: Anyway, I felt « v » was very different from what they’ve already released. Actually, the first thing I noticed was this super heady side. It is almost pop music: all the songs directly stay stuck in your head. Several songs are based on the same pattern: a sentence is repeated over and over till it becomes an obsession in your head. In “All The Same”, there is “It’s all in my head”, in “Pony” this is “it gets better” and in “My Head Hurts” you get caught by “I don’t exist”…
And you have this in every song! Personally, I keep on screaming “This conversation is getting boring” all day long. I really feel they took distance from surf rock and globally, this album is pleasant. The songs are short and efficient and I imagine myself singing them in a car while jumping everywhere.
Arnaud: This could maybe explain why you drive so bad… This is funny that you repeat “This conversation is getting boring” because I do the same everytime I am involved with a very boring conversation. You might have noticed I was often singing that to you in particular by the way! The music and the melodies are totally inspired by pop music. I think we can’t be wrong by claiming that.The real strength of the band remains their hooks. They are super powerful! The songs are short and the result is immediate. But what I like is the contrast between this pop side and the cynicism of the lyrics. Nathan Williams is a bit like Charlie Brown: you have the feeling he hasn’t taken a good decision in his life so far!
Matias: Asbsolutely! You know, there is this thing in the album: even if you think you won’t like it, you find yourself in a situation where you’re caught. You know, this kind of annoying songs that you can’t stop repeating all day long. I liked the album so this is not a problem for me but I would understand that someone feels bored. I would call that the “Call Me Maybe” phenomena.
Arnaud: Yes but it was existing way much before « Call Me Maybe » except that here, what will stay in your mind is not that joyful if you analyse it. The first track sets the pace: Nathan Williams is wondering if he has lived too long… Throughout the album, he sings how much he is depressed, alcoholic, lost. Despite the bubblegum side of most of the melodies, I think that the guy has real problems of stability. And he is more credible in this role than his fellas from Blink 182 whose looks always made me think of Danish band Aqua… Blink 182 were singing about high schools’ relationships while Wavves are a level on top with depression and addiction.
Matias: We each have our references: you quote Aqua, I quote Carly Rae Jepsen! I don’t know for you but I think that two songs are different from the rest of the album. It is a pity they are at the end of the LP. I’m talking about “Cry Baby” and “Fast Ice””.
Arnaud: Indeed, « Fast Ice » and its choirs sound a bit like The Beach Boys.
Matias: I personally heard in these two tracks The Strokes with “Is This It?”.
Arnaud: I always have doubt when the singers try to insist on showing how much they are rebels or depressed. I don’t know how much it is credible or acted. I was a witness, like a lot of people, of the vigorous exchange the band had with its label Warner Bros on Twitter some weeks ago. They had a disagreement about the release and the promotion of this fifth album and Wavves answered publicly by threatening the major with dropping the full album for free on the internet. This is so fashionable at the moment. One of the last examples we have in mind is Death Grips.
Matias: There is also a doubt on my side. In the album, you feel the efforts that are done to underline the depression side. This is almost obsessional, to such an extent that it could be fake. Human are more complex than that, you don’t have only a single feeling. And this lack of shades is maybe the main weakness of the album.
Arnaud: In 12 songs and 33 minutes, you have a short snapshot, a Polaroid of his state. The lack of shades is still acceptable because the album is short and efficient. I prefer a short album with consistency and only one theme than a compilation which takes an eternity and goes in too many directions, like Madonna’s “Rebel Heart”.
Matias: You can’t prevent yourself from talking about Madonna. This is crazy! I personally prefer complex albums. And let’s be honest, all the songs are not interesting. “Redlead” scatters too much despite a crazy guitar solo. The same for “Flamezesz” or “Wait”.
Arnaud: I personally think that « Redlead » is a good song… One of the best of the album, with “Heavy Metal Detox” and “Way Too Much”.
Matias: Indeed, « Way Too Much » is amazing! By the way, I have to go: This conversation is getting booooooring!