I think a lot of us are still getting over the hangover King of the Beach left us back in 2010. Nothing from the group has been quite as fun, even with the bittersweet “Dog” off 2012’s Afraid of Heights and the solid effort of V in 2015. There just hasn’t been anything to top “Post-Acid” or “Green Eyes” or most of the tracks really. So with every release I think it’s only been natural that we’ve compared each album to these tracks. But it’s been a minute since then and I think it’s fair that we start judging Wavves’ Nathan Williams himself as a man of 2017. You’re Welcome is the album that defines that man. It’s industrious in his attempt to appeal to the new year, summoning new tones and turns, but also, adheres to all the years and releases that have come to make what is Wavves.
“Hollowed Out” is the perfect schism of the past & future. Recycling the Beach Boys induces “ooohhhhs” Williams has worn so well over the years and incorporating the new challenging structures of this new record, it establishes where the band currently is in the evolution: not forgetting what makes their sound great but knowing the needed risks to make their sound great. The title track “You’re Welcome” leans more into these risks as it relies less the common and beloved harmonies produced by the band and more on nasally riffs and a thick bass melody. “Million Enemies” might be the most newfangled track as it embraces thick distortion pedals and a transition of verse that sounds almost like they are switching the key of the song entirely. It, definitely at first, is the most challenging track on the record, but after a handful of listens, I start finding it to be one of my favorites. It’s something completely new and its obscurity is easily overcome once you realize the almost abrupt change in verse sounds great. The much less obscure “Animal” is probably the poppiest track out of Wavves since “Dog.” The lyrics “The whole world covered in gasoline/And burning alive/I feel taken advantage of/And empty inside” bring the “man against the word” stature we’ve come to expect from Williams, but it’s the chorus that follows that we can actually see his guard going down, not only letting in these new tones, but also, a new hope within the world: “… A million stars light up my face/When you look at it.” It’s definitely of the more optimistic words we’ve heard come out of the singer, and tied in with a guitar riff of a tenacity not created by the group before, it manifests itself, not only into the best track off of the album, but also, from the group in a long time. “Animal” brings me those good vibes I found in King of the Beach years ago while still unleashing a new cadence that seems to me to agree with the new year.
You’re Welcome is one of the better albums I’ve heard so far this year too. With a lot of psychedelic bands coming from the ether lately it’s nice to know that punk still works and can still sound new. Wavves fans might not be in love with every track on the record because of the challenge, but if you’re open to the new sound and give it a few rotations, I’m sure you can find a few of your own gems and appreciate what Williams is doing. And if not, “Animal” should hopefully keep satiated until you can complain about how the next Wavves album doesn’t sound like Wavves.