Coming from a guy who spends his days off from a job as a touring musician relaxing with joints on beaches, watching daytime television and hanging out with his equally successful musician of an attractive girlfriend, Life Sux isn’t an album title that should appeal to the common listener.  But Wavves— aka Nathan Williams— has never been one to particularly care what others, ocassionally including his fans, think.  He’s indie-infamous for having a meltdown onstage in Barcelona, and his punkish attitude accompanies his “neo-grunge” style.

Life Sux is the latest Wavves EP, released yesterday through Williams’ own Ghost Ramp label (yeah, his life sucks so much that he has his own label that successfully sells records).  The album is the first Wavves release since the band’s second album with former label Fat Possum, King of the Beach.

Life Sux has attracted a significant amount of press in recent weeks, amounting to the most talked-about EP in recent history.  Lead single “I Wanna Be Dave Grohl” has been racking up airplay on more than one Sirius/XM radio station, and its catchiness reaches further than just its immediately-grabbing referential title.  The hook demonstrates Williams seemingly effortless ability of crafting ultra-catchy pop songs, then disguising them by smothering them in distortion.

Aforementioned attractive musician-girlfriend Best Coast (aka Bethany Cosentino) provides the backing melody for third track “Nodding Off,” an upbeat track that inspires its listeners to do just the opposite.  The song is a well-crafted demonstration of the indie power-couple’s combined talent.

The EP falters only slightly after that strong duet, when Wavves attempts to sing a ballad-ish tune on “Poor Lenore.”   Something about the slow, heavily-distorted guitars meshed with Williams’ whiny voice doesn’t quite catch on.  This relative calmness is quickly disrupted by the noisy “Destroy,” which features a guest feature from Canadian hardcore group Fucked Up— resulting in the most badass Wavves track ever released.  Williams and Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham repeatedly scream/growl/yell “Destroy!” over distorted, feedback-heavy guitars, almost inducing listeners to, well, destroy something.

Final track “In The Sand” finds Williams further from “Destroy”‘s chaos, reaffirming his status as King of the Beach by repeatedly singing “I wanna lie lie lie lie lie with my head in the sand” over surf-rock-style guitars.

Life Sux has received mixed reviews from prominent music sites, but the negative criticism seems largely unfounded.  The EP shows Williams’ finally discovering and growing comfortable with his unique style.  While Wavves’ self-titled debut was extremely lo-fi and over-compressed, his relatively well-produced and clean-cut second album seemed slightly off-putting.  His catchy pop-hooks were much more audible and noticeable on King of the Beach, but he also lost much of his lo-fi edge.  While previous works have left me unsure as to my opinion of the artist, Life Sux has made me a Wavves fan.

 

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