After Wavves' second album became one of 2009's breakouts, frontman Nathan Williams claimed he was going to explore more grown-up directions. Dude's barely old enough to drink, so why would he want to age his band? It would've 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.
Chris Parker writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.