In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that Wavves loves the letter “V”. If Wavves loves the letter “V” so much, why don’t they just marry it? They probably can’t marry it as I imagine it would be pretty difficult to marry a letter. Just think of all the paperwork and legal issues. However, they can still name their latest studio album after the letter.
Released on October 2nd, Wavves fifth studio album, V, sees the band expanding on a sound that we’ve all come to expect from them: pop-infused garage rock mixed with a little surf rock and occasionally noise rock elements. By this time in the band’s career, I would have expected some sort of stylistic change; however, the music on V sounds all too similar to 2010’s King of the Beach and 2013’s Afraid of Heights. In many cases, a band’s stylistic change can be a not-so-great thing. For example, in recent months, Tame Impala released Currents, signaling a major stylistic change that many considered to be a strong one. I realize that my opinion on that album isn’t exactly the popular opinion, but I thought that, while a stylistic change was a very good idea in theory, the album didn’t exactly seem memorable during most parts, and some of the songs on Currents were just plain bad. Again, I realize that isn’t exactly a popular opinion, but my point is that even though I didn’t love the final product, I’m glad that Tame Impala took a risk and created a record that no one expected them to at that point in their career, and I really wish that Wavves had taken some sort of risk on V. The album is extremely safe. At virtually no points on the record do I think, “Wow, that was a really daring and different song for them.”
That’s not to say that the songs on V are bad, but it gets to a certain point where many of the tracks start to blend together and sound the same. With as many bands as there are in today’s music scene, you almost can’t afford to have your songs sound the same (let’s call this the “AC/DC effect”).
A complaint that I’ve normally had with Wavves albums in the past still rings true on V: there is just too much compression and the vocals always seem to have way too much reverberation going on. Maybe the band really likes the way that these effects make their albums sound, but I’m really not a fan. Too much compression on the instruments end up losing some of the energy and looseness that I’d love to hear from future Wavves albums, and the compression and reverberation combination just ends up making the songs sound stale and over-engineered.
Despite its flaws and lack of diversity, V does offer some of the best tracks I’ve heard from the band since 2009’s Wavvves with songs like “Redlead” and “Way Too Much”. Those two songs in particular are my definite favorites from the album. “Redlead” offers some of the most creative instrumental parts on the album, and “Way Too Much” just contains some really good songwriting and nice vocal harmonies.
V doesn’t really add any new, interesting aspects to the band’s discography, but it does present a good group of songs by a talented band. While you may not find a new reason to love Wavves, you may really like the album. At the end of the day, V is a pretty good album with some solid songwriting.