In 2008 Nathan Williams’ combination noise and surf-pop as Wavves was over-hyped, but the group’s 2010 record King of the Beach really did solidify the music-to-lyric relationship, sounding like a carefree take on LSD zapping the synapses inside a sunburned skull. Since then, the similar Best Coast (fronted by Williams’ fling Beth Cosentino) joined in Wavves’ punk revival of 50’s beach dances like “The Swim,” as incubated on Cosentino’s full-lengths, Crazy For You and The Only Place. On the Fade Away EP, though, this leads to mixed results.
This seven-track set would excuse a lull for the sake of transition, but Fade Away’s duds are due to laziness. When they stray from the Ventures surf beat, it feels like an Only By The Night B-Side (“Fade Away;” [LISTEN]), slightly dark twist on “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” [LISTEN] (“Baby I’m Crying;” [LISTEN]) or say a 50’s slow-dance,“ like “I Don’t Know How,” [LISTEN] which returns compulsively to that surf pop groove with the most exhausted chords. Much more importantly, Cosentino’s way with words relies almost exclusively on mottos telegraphed way ahead of time. At least whenever she’s not just stating the obvious, like on this face-palm on “I Don’t Know How:”
Fade Away glows when dipping into the Jenny Lewis well, particularly on “Who Have I Become” [LISTEN] and “Fear of My Identity” [LISTEN]. The former shows Cosentino confessing regret about her hedonistic ways, a vibe shared by Williams on the recent Wavves effort Afraid of Heights. Her apprehension is brought on by love lost, his by responsibility. But the difference here is that Fade Away doesn’t have the sonic variety or lyrical picture-painting of …Heights. This bit on “Who Have I Become,” is an exception, though:
“Fear of My Identity” tops the album as Cosentino gets her empowerment on. With the opening line, “Last 30 seconds I’ll wait for him/To begin,” you’re not sure what she means, but you’re drawn in. Then the powerful melodies create enough fire to distract from mega-predictable quips like “The nights are getting longer/The pain is getting stronger,” rewarding you with a spitefully-honest build at the end, directed again at a guy who’s possibly wronged her. Just for gossipy fun, let’s assume it’s indeed Williams:
“Fear of My Identity,” “Who Have I Become,” these sentiments make a solid urban festival listen for anyone, Cosentino’s allusions to her life or not. But unfortunately, they are surrounded by nursery rhymes minus the cute.