“Can’t talk now I’m going through hell / Can’t see straight; I don’t feel so well / Staring at these hideous people / Point the finger but inherently evil.” Wavves waste little time in addressing the grim state of the world on ‘Thru Hell’, the surprisingly spritely opener of their seventh studio album ‘Hideaway’. As ever with the San Diego garage-pop heroes, there’s wry defiance as the bleak lyrics are offset with jangly fuzz that makes everything seem rosier.
This album marks a spiritual return home in more ways than one. When the world was locked down last year, frontman Nathan Williams decamped to his parents’ home to write this full-length in the tiny garden shed where he penned a lot of their early material. It’s also the first album back on legendary indie label Fat Possum after parting ways with major Warner in 2017, with Williams stressing his disillusionment in a statement: “It was anarchy. Nobody knew what they were doing. Major labels can’t help you maybe at one time they could, but that time is dead.”
The reclaimed independence immediately seems to have paid-off, the results as organic as they are thrilling. The fuzzy waltz of title-track ‘Hideaway’ finds Williams yearning, “I’ll do my best to hideaway from all of the bullshit chasing me.” The teenage angst that put this band on the map in the early ’10s is ever-present, but the songwriting feels more mature with colourful lyricism as he continues: “The field looks so pretty but it’s covered in landmines.”
Such creative freedom was also driven forward by producer Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio, who bonded with Williams over Johnny Cash deep cuts and honky tonk obscurities. That nuance cuts through on ‘Sinking Feeling’, where the band’s formerly abrasive qualities are subbed for swaggering guitar twangs that complement crisp vocals. ‘The Blame’ also gallops over outlaw ground with a shuffling rhythm section harking back to the genre’s glory days and country licks Waylon Jennings would proudly call his own.
Just over 10 years into their career, this album is Wavves’ most original and varied work yet. The flagship traits we’ve come to love in the band are evergreen – from the melodic pop-rock riffs to the youthful vocal snarl – capturing the restless frustration at the world with ease once again. But now with the liberty of turning attention to new creative pathways, Williams has crafted one of their finest albums to date, this record an unshackled upping of the game.
Release date: July 16
Record label: Fat Possum Records