Within the confines of the infinite multi-verse, there exists at least one possible world such that Sweet Valley‘s ‘Eternal Champ II’ LP represents the pinnacle of artistry. This world is not it. Nathan Williams (Wavves) and younger brother Joel “Kynan” Williams‘ “sequel” to 2012’s ‘Eternal Champ’ succeeds as a gritty, electronic noise album; however, the effort offers little more than nauseating pastiche and throbbing headaches.
Throughout ‘Eternal Champ II’, one picks upon inflections of both Avalanches (‘Hit & Run’) and Arca (‘Mirage’), but the overall work feels like a cheap replica, poorly hobbled together by someone in the midst of a four-day pizza/weed/alcohol binge. ‘Chameleon’ introduces listeners to vapour-puke with its cringe-worthy evocation of a junkyard ‘Pachelbel’s Canon’ and slowed-down vocal samples. For the Williams brothers, vapourwave isn’t dead, but rather a convenient niche-genre to cannibalize for their own insipid creations. Suffering through ‘Major Blood’ feels like one has walked into a casino-meets-arcade-meets-flash-player hellscape.
Simultaneously too long and too short, ‘Eternal Champ II’ encourages listeners to skip overly dense tracks while abruptly cutting short halfway interesting tunes. ‘Falcon’ realizes an immaculate blend of lo-fi, blow-out-yr-consciousness-distortion, higher register synths, and distant backing vocals (à la witch-house act Salem‘s ‘King Night’) for just under two minutes before Sweet Valley spits on the listening experience with the unfocused ‘Cover Girl’. One supposes this won’t matter for the inebriated psychonaut exploring “a Bermuda Triangle-like place, where cannabis crumbs, spilt beer, record dust and that mysterious shit you had to blow out of game cartridges,” but what makes something like ‘Since I Left You’ so good is that it’s a bloody album with a discernible arc. ‘Eternal Champ II’ is a wasteland of too-easily discarded thoughts and bad decisions.
Of course, perhaps ‘Eternal Champ II’ is brilliant and Sweet Valley are presaging a post-music future. The haphazard craftsmanship and fraying cacophony reflects a world in which humans tread ever so near environmental collapse. Fueled by the cancerous obsession with unfettered growth, self-driving cars and AI devices are peddled as mass consumer products (rather than solutions to constructing a post-ableist society) — why not release an album that embraces ugly aesthetics? Indeed, moving from 2012’s ‘Eternal Champ’, which featured a cutesy, 8-bit album cover, to ‘Eternal Champ II’, which suggests our collective move towards the uncanny valley with its self-reflexive artwork, the Williams brothers’ work does seem to offer a semblance of profundity. In any case, while multiverse theory allows that ‘Eternal Champ II’ is a haunting masterpiece somewhere out there, this doesn’t seem to be that place.
The full track listing for ‘Eternal Champ II’ is…
01. Rip Cord
02. Hit and Run
03. Wet Suit Jinx
06. Tunnel Rat
07. Major Blood
08. Coil Crusher
09. Air Tight
11. Cover Girl
13. And Then You Die
14. Lady Jae
15. Mutt and Junkyard
‘Eternal Champ II’ is out now via Ghost Ramp.