Albums

Album Review: Wombats – Glitterbug

A 4 year wait has spawned the 3rd studio album from the Merseyside indie group The Wombats.  Glitterbug marks the next stage of evolution for the band who have spent the majority of their time recording in Los Angeles after relentless touring of Europe, N. America and Australia. The question is whether newfound creativity can produce a record as infectious as past forays into the indie pop scene as with ‘The Wombats Proudly Present:’ duplet.

The Wombats’ fans have grown up. The once bright eyed, carefree pack of Frosty Jack’s swilling Sixth Formers are now pursuing their career aspirations, joining the property ladder and complaining about the cost of nappies. The Wombats knew this day would come eventually and they have attempted to follow suit with Glitterbug, an honest and sophisticated record that maintains the wit for which they have become synonymous with.

[quote] An honest and sophisticated record that maintains the wit for which they have become synonymous with.[/quote]

Musical arrangement has always been a strength of the trio and their latest offering sees some of the best work yet. Emoticons offers a modest, rising introduction and sets a level that remains unchanged for the majority of the album. An immature flutter towards the end of the track reveals that the band isn’t ready to let go of its early foundations just yet. The same can be said for This Is Not a Party, featuring a Muse inspired baseline although it makes little impression in the overall context of the album.

[quote]The Wombats have never made epic albums and have survived on their powerful, bouncy singles alone. [/quote]

The Wombats have never made epic albums and have survived on their powerful, bouncy singles alone (‘Lets Dance To Joy Devision’, Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)’). Sadly, Glitterbug is no different. Latest single Give Me A Try has the catchy hook and power that will see it outlive the filler prevalent in past albums whilst the percussive jabs of Greek Tragedy sees classic and self-deprecating lyrics from front man Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy. It’s ironic to note that all the success attained over the years has followed the same pessimistic model that has tinged all the bands singles, rather than the few tracks that display even a modicum of hope. The real genius that has been achieved is presenting this in a way that separates The Wombats from your generic and outdated Emo band, creating their own niche in an otherwise metaphor saturated indie-pop market.

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Glitterbug can at times seem a world away from 2007’s A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, building on the synth-tinged tracks of This Modern Glitch. Multiple guitar tracks have been stripped back to make way for 90’s pop infused harmonics that could have been sampled from the Moldovan Eurovision entry. Oddly enough, the combination of pop-synth and the witty, despondent (and at times morbid) lines in Be Your Shadow works to create a punchy topline that gets better with every listen. Murph can still be caught shoehorning his lyrics into the arrangements, but this is nothing new and often gives his pre-choruses a fresh dynamic.

[quote] The maturity and multi-instrumental development displayed by The Wombats shows they are ready for a new audience.[/quote]

A glance back to those Sixth Form days comes in the form of The English Summer with a stripped back riff and melody baring resemblance to ‘Kill The Director’ from the debut album. The traditional ballad track Isabel creates an easy listening break with flashes of positivity before being interrupted by lead single Your Body Is a Weapon, a track released 2 years ago. The curiously long wait between the first single and album release seems to have been for transitional reasons and has bridged the gap between This Modern Glitch and Glitterbug perfectly.

The veiled defiance of Curveballs caps off a controlled album that has the potential to fluctuate violently. The maturity and multi-instrumental development displayed by The Wombats shows they are ready for a new audience, snaking between a number of genres with no fear of experimentation. Although they are not ready to shake off their teen angst image just yet, there may be heartbreak for the traditionalists amongst fans. Only time will tell if they will break away completely.

7/10

Michael Bowes

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