V sacrifices none of the visceral, honest, SoCal influenced punk we have come to love Williams for on Life Sux and Afraid of Heights. If anything, it shows that Williams is now pandering to his strengths more than before. His hooks are tight while the drunkenly bright and hap-hazard vibe of his music is intentionally paired with lyrics about Williams’ struggle in life and love, and his grapple with the way things have apparently gotten worse since his 2011 Life Sux release.
Williams’ brand of pop punk blends hopeless nihilism with the 21st century struggle of “trying to have fun.” In the album’s opener “My Head Hurts”, Williams isn’t shy about shooting things deeply into his veins. From strictly a melodic standpoint, the song is bubbly, dancey and a gem of pop/surf/rock/punk. However, Williams asserts a lyrical dichotomy with lines like “I don’t exist” and “you’re killing me I hope you know,” and the songs main refrain “my head hurts/without you it’s worse”.
The same dichotomy is expressed on the track “Pony.” Aside from Williams obvious surf punk musical proclivity, he emulates the blind bravado and facade of confidence that is a trademark of 20 something year olds in America. His opening lyrics of “stupid and pretty self assured” and “hard to express, depressed and bored” are highly relatable sentiments. Williams taps into the snake person feelings of insecurity and isolation with his lyrics and your adolescent attempts to drown these feelings out with substance abuse are captured in his party fueled melodies. The lyric “open wide and insecure” reveals a generational awareness that makes V more substantial than Blink 182 for example, the pop punkers from a decade ago who drone on about nothing but their high school relationships.
The album art itself is representative of the futility that Williams feels, using the color scheme and common symbols on tarot cards, where something as simple as a fallen cup can represent how you are doomed for life. However, like someone who has received a grim tarot reading, Wavves knows he is doomed and chooses to ignore it. Perhaps he is even sending a message to have the fun you seek while you still can- regardless of the headaches, mental instability and insecurities. This album can only be described as throwing a party for the end of the world. Williams has confidence in his lack of confidence, and the results shine through on V.
Written by Alessandra Licul