Local Wire

Wavves @ Crescent Ballroom

Nathan Williams always had a good thing going with Wavves, whose string of buzzy, snotty pop-punk records has thrilled certain members of the blogosphere since 2009. The formula is clear: scuzzy guitars, crunchy drums, and an abundance of California slacker cool. But there's always been a nagging question lingering about Wavves: "Is Nathan Williams as good as he could be?" With 2013's Afraid of Heights, the dude finally has obliterated the doubts. Paired with producer John Hill (Rihanna, Pink, Shakira), Williams hasn't cleaned up his sound so much as he's refined it. "Sail to the Sun" is a classic sunny-pop anthem; "Cop" paints a scene straight out of a homoerotic crime novel, both tender and brutal. Then there's the album's centerpiece, the beatific "Demon to Lean On," which sounds like it could be the best post-Pinkerton Weezer song ever, with crushing Blue Album-era distortion and lyrics that ooze punk nihilism and pop naivete. "Holding a gun to my head, so send me an angel," Williams croons, sounding like Rivers Cuomo and Tom DeLonge's most talented love child, at once insouciant and dedicated. If anyone's wondering whether Williams has got it the way we always suspected he might, wonder no more. — Jason P. Woodbury

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.