(Fat Possom)

The crazy talk on the internets right now about Wavves is that the one-man band (aka Nathan Williams) is supposed to be on some next No Age–type of shit. The comparison isn't entirely ridiculous—both acts hail from Southern California (Wavves is from San Diego), bringing some versions of that land's punk history and aesthetics (see the '80s skater on the Wavvves cover) with them to tape, and both mine lo-fi guitar tones that scream (and echo, and fuzz) DIY. But Wavves' brand of lo-fi is less like a nine-volt battery duct-taped into a decent but beat-up loop pedal and more like a blown-out guitar amp recorded directly to a genuinely '80s vintage ghetto-blaster tape deck (and, in fact, Williams has recorded and released some material on cassette).

Standing between the listener and Wavves' essentially poppy instincts is a thick layer of clipping guitar distortion that renders some otherwise good songs just physically unpleasant to hear. But when the trick works—when the noise and the pop align just right—it's a blast.

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One example of such success is the joy-riding "No Hope Kids," a simple, three-chord sing-along ("Got no car/Got no money/I got nothing, nothing, nothing/Not at all") that clocks in at a perfect 2:14, just enough time for one sunshine-bright, wiped-out guitar solo. Another is "Weed Demon"—Wavves' songs titles are heavy on demons, goths, punx, and references to California sun and surf; his logo is an update of the Wipers'—which hints slightly at Pixies' mellower but still batshit surf-guitar genius (in which swimming out into the waves is equivalent with drifting into outer space).

The greatest glimmer of Wavves' potential, though (and also the album's most No Age–y track, perhaps explaining the comparisons), is "So Bored," a rippin', catchy punk-pop song with perfectly fuzzed-out guitars pinned to a swinging, tom-rolling backbeat, Williams providing as he does throughout the album his own reverb-heavy, ghost-whining backup vocals. If Wavves did a record with a dozen songs like this, he'd more than earn his fast-accumulating accolades. recommended