The blurred cover of Wavvves appears to capture a feckless skateboarder – no knee pads – on the verge of doom. S/he’s just come off a ramp and is mere seconds away from being clotheslined by a low-hanging tree branch. San Diego musician Nathan Williams may be stuck in his early 20s, but he knows a visual metaphor when he stumbles upon one. As Wavves, Williams strikes a balance between abject idleness and a personal, purposeful mandate to create by writing pop-punk tunes that sound as though their component parts were recorded via iPhone and slapped together on a laptop with a dying battery. You’re never quite sure, at first, whether a given song will wipe out completely or pull off a Tony Hawk–worthy McTwist; the shredded-tape production makes it hard to tell.
Williams explores out-and-out boredom and those factors capable of staving it off: the blazing California sun, noise experiments, chicks, weed and life on the skids. Title-wise, “So Bored” gives the game away before scratchily tubular riffage has a chance to scrape a hole into your memory – his concerns on the verses are garbled because they count for less than the easily relatable pose that the “I’m so bored/Life’s a chore” chorus offers. “Killr Punx, Scary Demons” is a druggy bit of reverb: nightmarish keyboard ripples laced with chimes looped into vocal apparitions and back again. “Got no caaaaar/Got no money/I got lots of nothing, nada, not at all,” Williams admits on “No Hope Kids,” his nonchalant enunciation eroded by distortion. It’s Dookie-era Green Day for Twitter kids and Times New Viking/No Age obsessives, oblivion poetry slung out with high wah-wahs and chopped-chaff chords asphyxiating on their own noxious feedback fumes – and it’s almost as much fun, fun, fun as lazy Saturdays spent grinding steps and rails.