Wavves: From left, Nathan Williams, Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes.
For a record that's just available digitally, King of the Beach, by San Diego pop-punk-grunge outfit Wavves, is generating an awful lot of smart criticism. Nearly enough that it threatens to crush the record itself (hello internet era!).
Three weeks ago, Pitchfork's Ian Cohen weighed in favorably, giving KotB a "Best New Music" tag and calling it a "resplendently colored" album that "wears its California lineage with pride."
This week in the Village Voice, former Pitchfork reviewer Sean Fennessey wrote about the beautiful (scuzzy) music Wavves frontman Nathan Williams and girlfriend Bethany Cosentino, of Best Coast, make about each other and their beloved state of California.
At the Riff City blog on the website for New York Public Media, Nick Sylvester, another former Pitchfork writer, went after Williams for creating an on-album persona that Sylvester said misses the distinction between "self-loathing and self-pity."
Finally, current Pitchfork columnist Nitsuh Abebe responded (on his personal bog) with the suggestion that perhaps that persona (tossed-off-songwriting, apparent lack of ambition or willingness to play pop star) is Williams' defensive response to an awareness that playing catchy-but-slackerish sounding music will be endlessly dissected on blogs:
Be explicitly bratty and whiny and, yes, maybe trollish, to an extent where you wind up suggesting that you’re practically against the attention, against the press, don’t care, are rolling your eyes at all the people discussing you, and will eventually go home to your TV and bong and skateboard and it’s probably the people posting about that to their blogs (hi, mom!) who should feel silly.
If it turns out Williams is some kind of hype mastermind who was able to anticipate that bloggers, given any nugget of controversy, will spin out a conversation that would keep his name in play for weeks, well, we might all feel a little silly then, too.