Known to our generation as that cheeky band from Liverpool who urged us all to ‘kill the director’ and ‘dance to Joy Division’, The Wombats are back with their third offering. Four years after the release of second album This Modern Glitch, new album Glitterbug packs a punch, although slightly different in sound. Influenced by lead singer Matthew Murphy’s time in Los Angeles, it is without doubt their most refined collection so far. However, this begs the question: is a refined sound something that The Wombats really suit?
Opening with track ‘Emoticons’, the album starts off with a mid-tempo rhythm that fans of the band might not entirely be used to. It is quite a ‘funky’ track that will stick in your head for a while, not necessarily for the lyrics but instead for the guitar licks throughout. The album is different in the sense that the band stick with the synth and techno influence that can be heard on their sophomore release, however it can be heard with much more depth on Glitterbug: tracks ‘Be Your Shadow’ and ‘Headspace’ illustrate this in particular, both songs sounding quite far-removed from the indie pop style of theirs we’ve all grown to know and love. For me, this change in direction doesn’t always pay off, and the band’s attempt at a ballad ‘Isabel’, the story of a night in a hotel between two lovers, starts with great promise but doesn’t really take off to a higher place.
However, there are harks back to The Wombats’ roots, with tracks ‘The English Summer’ and ‘Pink Lemonade’ sounding like they’ve come straight out of 2007, essentially A Guide to Love, Life and Desperation with a slightly more modern twist. ‘He pulls my hair, he coerces me / Into a world where romance is just a game, / And this awkward feeling is getting in the way’ are the perfect lyrics to illustrate this within ‘Pink Lemonade’, showing us that despite their growing maturity, they still have indie-disco issues at the heart of at least some of their efforts.
The band have made good choices in terms of singles, releasing what I’d deem as two of the stand out songs on the album to precede its release – ‘Your Body Is A Weapon’ is punchy and combines classic Wombats style with a synth edge that pays off into a super catchy chorus. ‘Greek Tragedy’ is a brilliant example of the band’s slight change in direction for the better, banging drums and a perfect balance of synth and guitar riffs to set off one of the better-crafted songs on Glitterbug – it’s one of those tracks you can easily have on repeat for a straight hour on a long car journey.
Despite a slightly unbalanced collection of songs, Glitterbug does deliver (to a degree) and I have no doubt this album will sound brilliant live. It might be hard for some die-hard fans to adjust to a few of the changes we can hear on this LP, but it can be seen as the most obvious step for The Wombats now they’re an older, seemingly more mature outfit.
Check out Glitterbug here.
Words by Kirstie Sutherland
[Originally written for Redbrick Music]