It’s hard to tell how much, after a three-year bout of sporadic discreetness, pressure was on Wavves to deliver with their fourth studio album. Having returned at the tail end of 2012 with the album’s lead single, ‘Sail To The Sun’, the pair dropped in the snotty noise-pop we’ve become accustomed to alongside a thought-provoking video. Exploring the unholy antics of a fictional televangelist, the promo provided a taster of the mildly religious themes that furnish ‘Afraid Of Heights’.
‘Afraid Of Heights’ soars above the scuzz of 2010’s ‘King Of The Beach’. The riffs of ‘Demon To Lean On’ is seasoned with the elements of grunge first touched upon in the 2011 ‘Life Sux’ EP. Elsewhere the record has a distinctive pop-punk nuance drawing similarities to 90s staples Green Day and Weezer.
‘Lunge Forward’ and ‘Beat Me Up’ incorporate a raw insouciance, yet still manage to uphold the West Coast lo-fi element that’s been present on every Wavves release so far. ‘Cop’ and the title track, however, present something new: have Wavves – gasp – grown up? Maybe not, but there’s something here that begins to verify that ‘slacker-pop’ isn’t the only weapon stored within the band’s musical armoury.
‘Afraid Of Heights’ is a far stronger and much more accomplished effort, sounding more like an apposite album than any of Wavves’ back catalogue. It’s the most perfect thing to have emanated from the San Diego outfit; themes of anxiety and depression may not have sounded this promising since the height of Nirvana’s success.