For the past few years, I have made listening to King of the Beach a part of my Labor Day festivities, as a gesture to commemorate the last dying gasp of summer. Usually the Wavves album serves as a soundtrack to an actual trip to the beach, but I decided this year to take that trip to the land of those beautiful grey skies only in my mind. However, the celebration did give me the chance to explore what it is exactly that has spurred my love for this album.
There is a key moment in the title track that opens the album that manages to set the tone for the rest of the album. It is the kind of throwaway idea that most listeners would gloss over, but every time I hear it I cannot help but crack up precisely because it is so stupid. After the first chorus (around the :53 mark), the band uses a ridiculous echo effect on the snare drum as the song kicks into the next verse. Though the band deploys other effects throughout the rest of the song, they do not use that drum effect again, giving the impression that this was some sort of studio joke that the band decided to leave in place, regardless of whether any better takes existed.
That little joke sets the mood for the rest of the album, alerting the listener to not take anything seriously. Though songs about weed and surfing should already signal to the audience what kind of album it is, this leaves no doubt that King of the Beach is an irreverent romp. It also shows that even though Nathan Williams was now working in a real studio with money and musicians and everything, the same fun that he had experimenting with lo-fi techniques in his bedroom from the group’s early days would still be a significant part of the band’s sound.
I am certain that this post represents more thought and effort than what into tossing in that silly effect, but sometimes dumb jokes pay off.