"No hope and no future," Nathan Williams sings more than once on "Demon to Lean On" (via Pitchfork), the second song to emerge from fourth Wavves album Afraid of Heights, due out on March 26 via Mom + Pop (see SPIN's 50 Albums You Gotta Hear in 2013).
The line echoes the Sex Pistols' anti-mantra for punk's class of 1977, of course, but it also recalls "No Hope Kids," a scuzzy standout from 2009 sophomore LP Wavvves. The difference could hardly be starker: Where that earlier Wavves song was so messily distorted a YouTube poster felt beholden to mention that "it's supposed to sound like this," the new song reflects Williams' recent comment to SPIN that he, bandmate Stephen Pope, and producer John Hill (Rihanna, M.I.A., Santigold) wanted the new record to "sound big." Soft-loud dynamics and Weezer-size choruses abound, with subtle, attention-rewarding details, like the castanets-like rattle throughout the second verse. Between "Demon to Lean On" and previously shared "Sail to the Sun," Afraid of Heights already boasts a couple of songs other beachy punk bands would trade in their bongs for. And we haven't even heard the Jenny Lewis collaboration yet.
The self-mocking edge to Williams' "no future" proclamation — the song begins with him "think[ing] of what we have," and conceding, "We're probably just dumb — reflects what the singer has described as his growing awareness of "the realness of life." The lyrics are littered with instant quotables, like when Williams flips the old cliché, to declare, "The truth is that it hurts," but ultimately it's hard to avoid that this catchy pop song has a chorus about "holding a gun to my head." The narrator has an angel and a devil on his shoulder like in cartoons. What choice do we have? All right, then, we'll go to hell. Might be a wise move to trade in that gun, though.
Pre-order Afraid of Heights here.
Afraid of Heights track list:
1. "Sail to the Sun"
2. "Demon to Lean On"
4. "Lunge Forward"
6. "Afraid of Heights"
9. "Beat Me Up"
10. "Everything Is My Fault"
11. "That's On Me"
12. "Gimme a Knife"
13. "I Can't Dream"
14. "Hippies Is Punks" (iTunes Bonus)
Wavves tour dates:
March 12-16 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
March 17 - Dallas, TX @ Prophet Bar *
March 19 - Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress *
March 20 - Los Angeles, CA @ Echo *
March 21 - San Diego, CA @ Casbah *
March 22 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill *
March 23 - Santa Barbara, CA @ Velvet Jones *
March 27 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge *
March 28 - Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room *
March 29 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
March 30 - Milwaukee, WI @ Rave Bar *
April 1 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean *
April 2 - Columbus, OH @ Basement *
April 3 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop *
April 4 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick (Lounge) *
April 5 - Toronto, Ontario @ Horshoe *
April 6 - Montreal, Quebec @ Salla Rosa *
April 8 - Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
April 9 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas *
April 11 - Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands *
April 12 - Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium *
April 13 - Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
April 15 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn *
April 16 - Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge *
April 18 - Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald's *
April 20 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom *
April 21 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell *
* with FIDLAR and Cheatahs