Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Williams seems to have mostly left behind the beach motif and the surf vibes for straight 90s alt-rock, and more often than not it works for him, but a few songs here (“Dog,” “Everything Is My Fault,” “I Can’t Dream”) fall flat on their face.
  2. Mar 25, 2013
    50
    Maybe lovers of '90s revival bands will find something to like here, but anyone who was into the records Wavves made before is out of luck.
  3. Mar 19, 2013
    80
    It's a comforting, fuzzy listen. [Apr 2013, p.92]
  4. On balance, it’s what you’d expect from a Wavves record, hardly revelatory and moderately inconsistent, but packed full of reckless exuberance and fun, hyperkinetic jams to thrash around to that take only a couple of listens tops to get lodged firmly in your head.
  5. Apr 23, 2013
    40
    Afraid of Heights is ok, it’s Wavves most sophisticated, it’s fun for one or two spins on a sunny day and the duo due take a few chances but at the end of the day, the thing that Wavves are most afraid of isn’t heights, its originality.
  6. Mar 28, 2013
    60
    Still branded with his punchy, pop-punk melodies, as well as venturing back to the fuzzier roots in several instances, the real issue with Afraid Of Heights is a lack of constraint.
  7. 70
    Williams’ angst hangs with you as long as the hooks stick in your head, for better or for worse.
  8. Mar 19, 2013
    80
    Afraid Of Heights is a far stronger and much more accomplished effort, sounding more like an apposite album than any of Wavves' back catalogue.
  9. Mar 22, 2013
    80
    With Afraid of Heights, Williams has achieved a rare type of punk rock maximalism, crafting a massive, buzzy record on his terms.
  10. Mar 25, 2013
    74
    So endlessly California that it sunburns, Afraid is derivative when it’s idling and full of vigor when it’s not.
  11. Mar 19, 2013
    50
    Over a full-length album, he's as annoying as ever. [No. 96, p.61]
  12. 70
    Afraid Of Heights takes the formula he toyed with there and beats it into something more coherent, focusing on decorating his punk with this new sonic tinsel.
  13. Mar 21, 2013
    60
    Surprisingly, the least punk moments are the most adventurous.
  14. Mar 26, 2013
    75
    The album is split up between the predictable pop-punk energizers that made 2010’s King of the Beach a pleasure, and a new avenue of slower, resolute tracks that lean on their lyrics. Williams, though, is not exactly a belletrist, nor does he try to be, and the words do function, proving to be revealing, dark and honest.
  15. Mar 26, 2013
    78
    Afraid of Heights is the first Wavves album longer than 40-minutes and sometimes it drags.... Still, Afraid of Heights provides plenty of bummed-out pleasures and Williams' obvious talent is easy to take for granted.
  16. Apr 4, 2013
    70
    Waaves offer some addictively catchy tunes that, while somewhat empty and lacking in substance, are still good, hazy fun.
  17. 75
    The nonchalant attitude Wavves approaches music-making with provides a cap to the height it can reach in terms of producing something truly excellent or groundbreaking. However, that’s kind of the whole point.
  18. 80
    With Wavves, you know what you're getting, and while Afraid of Heights offers no major surprises, it may be their finest hour yet.
  19. Mar 26, 2013
    80
    Frequent Nirvana echoes flirt with overkill. But no one has ever channeled that band's bubblegum nihilism better.
  20. Apr 16, 2013
    50
    More often than not, Afraid of Heights points to a set of punk-rock signifiers rather than thoughtfully engaging with them.
  21. Mar 25, 2013
    60
    He seems plenty happy to hone coulda-been Nirvana licks to perfection on Afraid of Heights, which, despite being an album of all-new material, still feels like the Incesticide of his canon.
  22. Mar 26, 2013
    83
    Afraid Of Heights sounds bigger and more ambitious than anything Nathan Williams’ former backyard solo project has ever recorded.
  23. Jul 9, 2013
    70
    Their kings of the beach crown may have slipped a little nowadays, but Wavves still offer plenty of no-frills fun.
  24. 70
    With Afraid of Heights, a record that, for the most part, is the sound of a band treading water. It’s perfectly lovely water, all the same; there’s a slew of songs more than worthy of the record’s predecessor.
  25. Mar 29, 2013
    70
    There's only one possible word for this: rad. [May 2013, p.79]
  26. Mar 22, 2013
    60
    On this slightly-too-long-at-13-tracks album, the missteps come when they stray from the tried-and-tested blueprint. [Mar-Apr 2013, p.96]
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Aug 22, 2013
    7
    [7.4] However much it sounds like "Beach Nirvana," Afraid of Heights may not be more complex than any other surfer rock, but it is thoroughly[7.4] However much it sounds like "Beach Nirvana," Afraid of Heights may not be more complex than any other surfer rock, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. Full Review »
  2. Jun 16, 2013
    8
    On Afraid of Heights any issue I had with their past work about it being too lo-fi to make anything out is fixed completely, reaching a greatOn Afraid of Heights any issue I had with their past work about it being too lo-fi to make anything out is fixed completely, reaching a great production sound that stays clear & crisp enough that everything can be heard, while never being polished to the point that the grit & attitude of the songwriting are overshadowed. The slight reverb on the vocals throughout is also a nice touch. At the same time though the production can differ in some tracks in a way that can really compliment the song, like in the drugged-out & hazy dissonance of “Mystic” or in the dreamy, almost psychedelic atmosphere of “Everything is My Fault”.

    Another improvement on this album is in the catchiness department. Every song here has at least one hook that’s just plain infectious, in the best way possible, and expect some to be stuck in your head after the 1st or 2nd listen. In a way this brand of upbeat, catchy, sincere & lyrically miserable garage rock is something occasionally reminiscent of iconic 90’s bands like Nirvana, Pavement or even early Weezer (particularly lead single Demon to Lean On, whose structure reminiscent of tracks like El Scorcho or Pork & Beans). Speaking of lyrics, those have taken a shift to, going from the perspective of carefree slacker surfer dude from their earlier stuff to one of a neurotic pothead with a lot of personal problems to deal with, from low & borderline suicidal self-esteem to shaky relationships to an unwilling lack of ambition. It’s pretty interesting to read through what seems to be singer/guitarist/lyricist/occasional drummer Nathan William’s emotionally unstable personal diary from the year-long period this album took to make that apparently left him & bassist Stephen Pope nearly broke during the recording process. Admittedly if there’s any gripes I have with this it’s that when enough self-deprecating lines are sung, it can get to a point where it feels like a pity party or, with titles like “Everything is My Fault” and “Gimme a Knife” & lines like “none of you will ever understand me”, listening to the whiny ramblings of a mid-00’s emo kid. Still that’s probably my only issue with the album, and even though it affects multiple tracks, it’s nothing bad enough to really ruin any of them or decrease the overall quality all that significantly.

    Like in the production, musically Wavves hits a great middle-ground between meticulous & human. It’s aided by Williams’ distinct voice. While some people might be alienated by how nasally & not technically proficient it is, to me it really works well with the crunchy guitars, creating a perfectly meshing sense of snottiness & relatability due to how normal & genuine he comes off. At the same time though the songwriting never feels too sloppy or lazy, with much of the album still feeling professional & planned out, between the driving power chord riffs, tight drum grooves & occasionally eclectic songwriting. Some other notable departures include the breezy acoustic psych-pop of “Dog” or musically similar dark humor of “Cop”, as well as closer “I Can’t Dream” that ends the album on a somber but satisfying note.

    Overall I really enjoyed Afraid of Heights. It’s chock full of catchy hooks, sincere lyricism, and a willingness to experiment a little when necessary, which are basically the traits I look for in any good album. I’m gonna be seeing Wavves as part of a big festival thing in September & have high hopes, especially after this.

    Top 5 tracks: Demon to Lean On, That’s On Me, Sail to the Sun, Afraid of Heights, Gimme a Knife
    Score: 86/100
    Full Review »
  3. May 19, 2013
    5
    Afraid Of Heights by Wavves is a more quiet sound, there is less noise and more Grunge if anything. This album has clearly been influenced byAfraid Of Heights by Wavves is a more quiet sound, there is less noise and more Grunge if anything. This album has clearly been influenced by Nirvana’s Nevermind. Whilst I’m not too big on my Nirvana, preferring Bleach to their other albums, I like the mix of sounds that Wavves have got on Afraid Of Heights. It’s not an obnoxious album like their other work could be argued as, but its sound is cleaner.

    “Sail to the Sun” has a very nice clean sound to open the album before getting louder in Grunge fashion. I feel that “Demon to Lean On” could even be a Nirvana song that was just never released. The lyrics feel very downcast with songs like “Paranoid”, “Gimme a Knife” and “I Can’t Dream”, yet it never seems to moan about anything too much, you don’t feel forced anything.

    The albums has it Nirvana echoes for sure, but I also get that FIDLAR surf punk sound that they’ve been putting out, as well as some California X vibes in the vocals, just more prominent. I feel “Lunge Forward” is the first track on the album that seems enjoyable to me. It’s not that I didn’t like listening to the first three songs, it’s just that the album seems to get it’s feet at this point, it doesn’t seem so weighed down.

    I feel that with this Wavves album, it just can’t escape that Nirvana song, I mean just listen to “Dog”, I’m definitely hearing “Polly” in this song, and because there is always that Nirvana ghost in the background, the album suffers from it. I can get that they were an influence and the tracks are going to show that, I just feel that they show it too much at points.

    This album’s ghost qualities are reflected in the sound of “Everything is my Fault”, it’s a very stripped down vocal heavy song that with reverb has that ghostly sound to it, and even though it features yet another acoustic guitar, with the inclusion of a beacon sound in the background it is the album’s stand-out track because dynamically it is so different.

    Overall the album doesn’t do anything special, nor new and you don’t exactly have a roaring time listening to it because it feels so depressing, but I think that works to it’s advantage. The sleepy final track “I Can’t Dream” feels like an album closer, and as a whole the album reflects the lyrical themes; it’s a bit of a mess. But if you’re a Nirvana fan you may get more out of it than most.
    Full Review »