Though best known for his work with lo-fi punk band Wavves, Nathan Williams and his Joel recently started making electronic music under the name Sweet Valley. Their first record, Stay Calm, is gritty, gnarly, and deserves to be the dance album of the summer.
Sweet Valley sounds very much like Wavves record. It is about as low fidelity as one can get, and sounds like it would be more at home on a cassette tape than a digital stream. But instead of bringing to mind images of rowdy mosh pits, Stay Calm is much more upbeat than its Wavves predecessors. As an added bonus, the beats on the album are really creative – Sweet Valley sound like they may have been inspired by Major Lazer or other Mad Decent artists. The album, more than anything, feels fun, and lends itself to be a perfect sunny vacation soundtrack.
The biggest problem with this record lies in its length. Stay Calm is really short: there are only 9 songs on the whole album, and only three clock in at over three minutes. The entire record is a measly 22 minutes long. It’s unfortunate, because Sweet Valley has made some great material; but there just is not enough of it to enjoy. The shortness, in a way, compliments to punk aesthetic of Stay Calm, but Sweet Valley seems like a step above the average noise pop group – Stay Calm deserves to be longer. Not only does the album itself feel too short, but some of the songs feel like they should last longer and have some more substance added to them.
Thankfully, Sweet Valley’s Stay Calm is the first in a series of five mixes that have already been recorded by the band. Given that this is one of the most exciting new releases I have heard this summer, I am absolutely ecstatic to see what the band has to offer in the years to come.