What greatness might have ensued if Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes had suffered Jay Reatard's abuse just a little longer? Could they have wrested away the skull-shaped bong from which he's alleged to have freebased cocaine, stalling his inevitable implosion for even a few months? Oh, cruel speculation! Instead, they joined Wavves, their destructive powers wasted on someone who mixes his vocals and guitar way too loud.
King of the Beach is marred by the same impulse Nathan Williams manifested last month at Great Scott — his voice cuts through everything to the point of distraction. Wavves was a perfect record — an unholy, genius combination of attitude, feedback, and just enough melody to make Williams seem like the second coming. King of the Beach finds him all too human — melancholic, exposed, and a little vulnerable. Is this what we want from our punks?
Williams calls this record his Nevermind, and that's apparent everywhere, from the "Lounge Act" bass line in "Linus Spacehead" to the straightforward rock production throughout. This approach works best when Williams channels not Cobain but Ween (Dean, not Gene). "Convertible Balloon" evokes a dork on nitrous who might cut you — fantastic! But when his methods fail, he sounds like the dude from Blink-182 — just another suburban punk whining about this and that. Why did he expose himself? He could have been anything under all that fuzz.