Last night Nathan from the surf punk band Wavves tweeted that his side project Sweet Valley (a beat making collaboration between himself and his little brother Joel Williams) was going to release a new album for free today, and lo and behold when it happened pitchfork media and all of the Wavves disciples hopped on twitter proclaiming its greatness.
The thing is tho… is that the album, called SV, isn’t really very good. Mostly it just seems unfinished. While the whole point of the project is to provide beats for rappers, some of the beats sound unfinished. the opening salvo of “kingdom of heaven” is impressive, with a chipmunk vocal sample and a bass-filled drop, and “Turbo GT” sounds like it the kind of beat and fan of the A$AP Rocky and Skrillix collaboration would fawn over. But for every track like that there’s two others that have Sweet Valley placing being “cool” higher on their list of priorities then being good. Many of the tracks speed by at a breakneck space, trying hard to inspire dancing. Sweet Valley’s strength’s lie in spacey tracks like “Hypomia” that sample otherworldly voices, not hyperactive headaches like “Jet Speed”. It ultimately feels like something the duo should of spent more time working on, not carelessly released out on the internet before it was ready. The idea that the ep has something missing isn’t helped by the two of the worse songs on the ep being untitled.
Fortunately soundcloud streams all songs on a artists page automatically, so when I went to listen to the ep at Joel William’s soundcloud I was unexpectedly lead to his Ruby Mixtape.
This was what I wanted the Sweet Valley release to be: Bass-heavy hip-hop beats with plenty of spacey synths on top. Imagine if Panda Bear or Animal Collective tried to make a rap release. Where SV felt unfinished, this ep feels like its bursting with ideas. One the first track alone there’s a hook that is pure Beach Boys, hip-hop grunts, horns, wind chimes, and horror movie sample. The singsong hooks, which are more plentiful here then in Sweet Valley’s work, are mostly about smoking weed and hanging out .Combined with the trippy production, would the perfect soundtrack for any bong-ripping philosophy major’s dorm room. Kynan is as good a singer as his older brother, bringing a similar punk rock directness on “Loner”. Occasionally the trip turns dark, such as the menacing “shake that ass” with its demonic sounding hook aggressive bass. The song “Eternal Sleep” has lyrics that sound like they were taken from a Nine Inch Nails album (“The lord has a place for me, beneath the soil and tress, just let me rest in peace”). These dark moments are brief, with the tape returning to a stoner’s declaration of love on “She’s Singing In My Ear”. It’s a shame that Kyan ran out of codeine syrup before he worked on the Free Valley. Even in its darkest moments, the production was inventive enough to keep a goofy smile on my face for the duration of the afternoon. Download both tapes for free via Kynan’s soundcloud