Release Date: Apr 14, 2015
Record label: Bright Antenna
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Following up the group's literate, giddy 2011 effort, This Modern Glitch, Britain's Wombats return with their equally euphoric and lyrically pointed third full-length album, 2015's Glitterbug. Still centered on lead singer/songwriter/keyboardist/guitarist Matthew Murphy along with bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Tord Øverland-Knudsen and drummer/vocalist Daniel Haggis, the Wombats make an immediately infectious, skillfully polished brand of '80s-influenced synth pop that also manages to weave in the energy of '90s cool Britannia as well as the wry, often humorous social commentary of bands like the Kinks. Working with producer Mark Crew, who previously helmed Bastille's Bad Blood, the Wombats build upon the buoyant, dance-oriented vibe of This Modern Glitch, honing their sound into a tight, glossy sheen that hints at the bombastic new wave productions of '80s bands like Tears for Fears, while also fitting nicely alongside more contemporary releases by acts like the Killers and the 1975.
Glitterbug is a fitting title for the latest sugary synth-pop confection from British outfit the Wombats. The band brought catchy choruses and energetic verses on A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation and This Modern Glitch, but Glitterbug takes the glitz a step further with more electronic production and a clear aim to reach an audience of radio listeners. "Greek Tragedy" has the potential to be as successful a single as 2011's "1996," as they combine an infectious chorus with a pop production sheen.
Review Summary: "I've been here before... I don't really care & I don’t ever wanna change".Has any band gone from charming to annoying as swiftly as The Wombats? It’s not entirely clear how this occurred, although it may have something to do with the Liverpudlians appearing on every single type of music festival. But since when has frequent touring been a negative trait? Or maybe it’s because the indie-pop act were a little late to the party and ultimately rather derivative.
The Wombats haven’t half made themselves easy targets, what with the not-terribly-funny funny songs of their 2007 debut album – a record so dated you might expect secondrate standups to do observational routines about it: “Remember Let’s Dance to Joy Division? Eh? What was all that about?” – and the attempt to go slinky and sleek on its followup. It’s album No 3 now, and they’re still a truly popular group, but are they any good? They’re nowhere near as bad as the critical consensus suggests – you’d have to be Paris Hilton singing a British Eurovision entry to be that bad – but they’re utterly unmemorable. Glitterbug ups the gloss, bringing in sequenced dance rhythms, though often of the kind – as on This Is Not a Party – that sound like they were taken from close study of a 1991 edition of Now!, and Matthew “Murph” Murphy is still nowhere near as witty as he’d like to think he is.
Since 2007, The Wombats have fulfilled a basic human, but peculiarly British, need for melodic, irreverent indie pop that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They’ve always hinted at an inner turmoil beneath their external sanguinity, but the Liverpool trio’s last album, 2011’s ‘This Modern Glitch’, was ‘dark’ like Ant & Dec with a mild hangover: even when singing about one-night stands, vampiric cityscapes or the black dog of depression, they couldn’t help but sound wholesomely pre-watershed. This follow-up similarly aspires to be more than your standard collection of disposable indie night fodder.
When the Wombats first suggested "Let’s Dance to Joy Division" on A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, their 2007 debut, they came on strong with a blend of jumpy indie rock and lovable goof personas. Their follow-up, 2011’s This Modern Glitch, followed suit. But in the four years between their second and third albums, the sweet silliness has dissipated.
There are few albums with the infectious charm of The Wombats’ debut, A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation, which was released in 2007. No, it wasn’t the most sophisticated or groundbreaking of records and it was squarely aimed at Sixth Formers and teenagers, but singles such as Kill The Director, Moving To New York and Let’s Dance To Joy Division were undeniably catchy. They also provided the perfect soundtrack to The Inbetweeners.
A lot has changed in the time since The Wombats released their debut LP in 2007, and those changes leave the Liverpool trio a little unsure of the space that they’re occupying. For a start, the indie disco playground in to which ‘A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation’ was released has long since outrun its heyday – replaced by brostep remixes of ‘Wonderwall’ and a long line of knock-off Jaeger shots. To add to that, entering their thirties, the band can hardly recount the tales of in-between lads, back seats of buses and bike shed sob stories with the same charm and fun as they did nearly a decade ago.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Don't judge a song called 'Emoticons' by its title. Judge it by the fact that it's a sugar-drowned sped-up Kodaline track. Judge it by the discount Passion Pit sound. Judge it by loud lyrics such as "And all these emoticons and words, try to make it better but they ….
British “student” pop/rock (unfailingly performed by white males) has a fine tradition of different parallel streams. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the Who’s muscular rock and iconoclastic pyrotechnics wowed the student audience; as did Pink Floyd’s incomparable moonscapes wow them in bedsit land.The ‘80s saw an outbreak of “comedy” bands like Half Man Half Biscuit who specialised in catchy numbers about kids’ cartoons or obscure cult personalities. Pretty insubstantial fare, but Half Man Half Biscuit were more fun than the other ‘80s student archetype, epitomised by tall, thin figures dressed in raincoats lost in the pleasure doom of Joy Division, one of Britain’s most influential bands.