THE album to own in 2007 was The Wombats’ debut release Tales of Girls and Boys and Marsupials – they tore up the charts, and they won people over with their juvenile and inoffensive indie-pop. Three and a half years later, and THE hotly anticipated album of 2011 is, (you’ve guessed it), The Wombats‘ This Modern Glitch, and damn weren’t the critics right.
This Modern Glitch opens with ‘Our Perfect Disease’, a track that will snap, crackle and pop its way into your musical psyche. The opening punchy synth cracks like a musical shotgun, whilst Murph’s vocals wonder over the top with an air of aimlessness that suits the disheveled front-man down to the ground. When the drums and guitar kick in, they do so in a complementary fashion, weaving themselves into the already complicated musical balance. It is then, just three minutes into This Modern Glitch, that The Wombats take you by the shoulders with a sound that surprises and dares you not to pay attention.
Musically, the album is miles away from the brightly coloured pick n’ mix world of the British sea side that The Wombats‘ debut epitomised. Gone are the catchy guitar driven melodies and whining vocals, replaced instead with a darker, more mature sound that is spattered with synth left right and centre. And although this transition may come as a surprise to the die-hard fans, they have managed it with the utmost expertise: there are hints of The Wombats we grew to love expertly placed in a different musical realm, making the album a fresh, fun and exciting contribution from the trio.
‘Walking Disaster’ and ‘I Dreamt Last Night I Died Alone’ are great examples of this precarious negotation. Both tracks hint at an existence outside romance and night-clubs that many of us realise with age and maturity, but at the very same time, the melodies are catchy and playful, preventing This Modern Glitch from being an angsty second record trying to be something it’s not.
And although it is certainly a darker record than the debut, it’s somehow painfully uplifting with genuine moments of musical ecstasy, that demonstrates The Wombats still have a cheeky charm about them. ‘Girls/Fast Cars’ fits nicely into this aesthetic, with the lyrics “What I feel is what I say / I’m not trying to be smart” epitomising the fun and frivolity often associated with the trio, shamelessly admitting ‘we are what we are, whether you like it or not’.
Personal highlights include ‘I Never Knew I Was A Techno Fan’, ‘Girls/Fast Cars’ and ‘1996’. They are perfectly placed between two musical polars, are wonderful songs for long summer days and beg the listener to dance around like a loon.
Yet, This Modern Glitch is packed to the brim of stunning tracks, making it a record that begs a listen in its entirety. Overall it is a complicated and complex offering from The Wombats who demonstrate they have much more potential outside being awkward indie-kids of their debut. It’s exciting, enjoyable and often poignant, but light and fun at the very same time. A sturdy and sensational record in every way.
Released April 25th.
Good: Encorporation of synth and complicated melodies, with a more mature direction
Bad: Mostly hard to fault, though the album version of ‘Jump into the Fog’ is sometimes a little jarring, with some strange orchestration.