The music of Wavves has been defined by a certain anarchic force over their short career. Afraid of Heights, their fourth, has that same demonic energy but channeled in a much more controlled and crisp manner.
Take lead single "Sail to the Sun," which has the band sounding more like fellow beach-poppers the Drums than anything they've released yet, from the tinkly ambient opening to the cleanly produced groove they lay down once the drums and bass kick in. Even singer Nathan Williams' bratty squawk sounds toned down, like he's truly aiming for melody.
Overall, Afraid of Heights is the slickest we've heard Wavves sound, outside of their strange guest spot on the most recent Big Boi record (mostly a failed experiment). It also feels stylistically different, more like a '90s grunge-pop record, especially on "Demon to Lean On," a straight up post-Nevermind buzz bin track if I've ever heard one.
The '90s revival continues for most of the record, especially on the title track, which goes full Weezer with catchy hooks, falsetto woo-wooing and walls of guitar crashing down for every chorus in which Williams repeats, "I'll always be on my own/ Fucked and alone." It's a Rivers Cuomo-y sentiment from a guy whose been spinning this new record as a product of "soul searching" and finding himself. The snotty extrovert has become the sincere introvert.
Afraid of Heights is so sugary it's sure to rot your teeth, but you'll be enjoying yourself too much to notice.