After Wavves’ second album became one of 2009’s breakout records, frontman Nathan Williams said he was going to explore more grown-up directions. He’s barely old enough to drink, so why would he want to make his band sound more mature? It probably would have been a better decision to release another album of noisy sunshine-ridden garage-surf, because King of the Beach is a disappointment: Wavves, cleaned and pressed for church. Minus the fuzzy, overdriven, reverb-laden ethos, the music loses some of its impact, coming off less like the Beach Boys passing through a rusty grater than jangly indie poppers with a little propulsion. A few songs sound like Williams did last year, especially “Baseball Cards” — which includes wavering, wafting analog synths and arcade samples — and the outro crunch of the Jesus and Mary Chain-like “Take on the World.” Wavves’ twee-punk can still engage, though it’s not nearly as distinctive without grit to counterbalance the sugary swagger. Williams has a gift for pretty melodies, and the addition of Jay Reatard’s old rhythm section provides plenty of punch, but King of the Beach doesn’t offer much else.
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