For more than a decade, Wavves has been the go-to band for washed-out Southern California slacker rock, each album drenched in saltwater and beer. Their 2010 album King of the Beach delivered an ode to all things sunny and lazy, an excuse to endlessly kick back while striving to ascend to beach-bum baron. On their latest release, Hideaway, their sound still oozes with a sun-soaked approach, but this time it feels different. Perhaps it’s the state of the world, heightened anxieties, or just the time away from writing and recording, but Hideaway feels shaped and waxed, the longboard Wavves has been building for years.
It’s not all fuzz and major chords on Hideaway. Highlight “The Blame” finds Nathan Williams embracing a twangy, country-inspired moment. It’s as if the rodeo came to Malibu, a new approach for the band, and a refreshing take on a quick fingerpicking guitar style. Juxtaposed against Williams’ fatigued vocals, it’s an interesting combination and a sonic direction that works surprisingly well.
Beyond some of the album’s more interesting musical diversions, though, Hideaway finds Wavves at their most introspective. Frontman Nathan Williams has had a few stumbles in the public eye, dating back to an early fiasco at a music festival. With 2019’s reveal that he’s actually a landlord (not so slacker after all, it turns out), it’s hard to brush past some of the writing on Hideaway without considering this is his chance to express that he hit a wall personally. The title track yearns for a place to hide out the uncomfortable and unbearable, especially as Williams sings, “I don’t care if time’s erasing me / It’s been torture existing this long.” While it’s borderline melodramatic, most of us living with the hangover of 2020’s existential dread can no doubt relate. On the other side is “Sinking Feeling,” an eloquent way to describe the cacophony that anxiety creates inside our brains and guts. Williams nails down his feelings of fatigue as he sings, “An incoming tide / So fierce you can’t hide / Takes you until you drown.”
Hideaway might on the surface seem like just another collection of easy-to-digest surf rock anthems to add some brightness to darker days. But past the washed out, lo-fi sound is a desire to feel better. At the end of “Honeycomb,” when Williams repeats “I need something new,” the yearning is palpable. Hideaway doesn’t necessarily offer solutions, but it can provide sentiments to accompany all the complicated battles we’re facing. And hey, that’s better than nothing.
Label: Fat Possum
Extremely proud of her documentation of every Wegman’s item in The Office. Once got last place in a corn shucking competition.