Review : The Wombats - This Modern Glitch
SputnikmusicWhile the subject ranges from trivial to an integral bone of contention, it is always interesting to see what songs an artist (and/or their label) release as singles. One can imagine many a back-room debate concerning the decisions, with internal power struggles, hypocritical principles and objective adjudicators all a possibility to enter the process. One band who has found an effective way to circumnavigate such discussion is Liverpudlian indie-poppers The Wombats. Quite frankly, the distance between the cheeky trio's best and worst tracks on their debut LP was so immense, that even Deaf Jeff could choose which - and in what order - tunes would be let loose upon the masses. So when killer lead single 'Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)' was released seven months prior to the Scouser's second album 'This Modern Glitch', critics and fans alike, were still tentative in raising their expectations.
Arguably their best song to date, the insanely catchy sing-along chorus and body-moving qualities of 'Tokyo', recalls the superlative dance-rock of Franz Ferdinand & The Killers at their best. Meanwhile, follow-up track and single 'Jump Into the Fog' contains the bombastic attributes of fellow Brits Muse, moving from pronounced atmospheric keys to a distorted guitar solo in a heartbeat. This time around it gets a little more divisive after that, with strings-drenched third single 'Anti-D' and club-ready fourth single 'Techno Fan' certain to have as many haters as they have fans. Both of these cuts are likely to be judged on the trademark wit of their lyrics, with the former pleading "Please allow me to be your anti-depressant, I too am prescribed as freely as any decongestant”, while the latter proclaims "Shutup and move with me or get out of my face, I didn't queue for an hour to leave straight away".
As part of the maturation process of the band, the lyrical content of 'This Modern Glitch' has evolved from the fun, witty and humorous one-liners of 'A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation'. The acerbic pop culture references are still littered throughout, but the self-deprecation clearly has a darker, more serious undertone here. The one-time addiction to prescription anti-depressants of front-man Matthew Murphy is laid bare, and while it clearly assists both his rehabilitation and the band's development, it weakens the curiously likeable charm evident on their debut. As always, for every lyrical gold nugget, there is an awkward, corny rhyme to be heard. 'Last Night I Dreamt...' ends with "Apart from when I lost my virginity, I've never been known to frighten easily", while 'Walking Disasters' serves up "Consumption makes us stronger, you're the sweetest anaconda"....full text
BbcJust as comedy actors, no matter how massive their crowd-draw or how enjoyable their movies, stand a popsicle-in-Hell’s chance of ever winning an Oscar, it’s virtually unthinkable that the second album from Liverpool’s The Wombats will grace the higher echelons of any end-of-year polls or the Mercury shortlist. They cross too many boxes – they’re shamelessly radio-friendly and insanely melodic, they have a ‘wacky’ name and they’re simply too popular/ist to garner much of a credible critical vote. On the contrary, that scraping sound you can hear is the widespread music media dragging their shovels towards This Modern Glitch intending to bury – largely unheard and with extreme prejudice – the leading exponents of what the trolls have deemed "landfill indie".
And what a travesty that burial would be. Because, for its genre – polished, uplifting, chart-bound electro indie-pop – This Modern Glitch is a flawless modern classic to file alongside Free All Angels by Ash, Franz Ferdinand’s debut and Hard-Fi’s Stars of CCTV. Leaning more heavily on synth blares and funk-disco beats than their guitar-orientated debut A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, it’s like a blast of musical Optrex to the face of 2011. It revitalises the 80s electro-funk-pop revival on the stunning likes of Our Perfect Disease (hyperactive Hurts) and Walking Disasters (morose Marina). It invigorates Naked and Famous-esque synth-pop with jubilant harmonic whoops and trills on 1996 and Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves). And it re-imagines The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony as an anthem of defiance against personal (rather than social) tribulations on the string-swaddled ode to singer Murph’s anti-depressant addiction, Anti-D.
And there’s the kernel to The Wombats’ popularity and (inevitable) longevity. Sure, they sporadically live up to their cartoonish persona by playing the ultimate Nuts readers on fuzz-punker Girls / Fast Cars, or detailing a druggy night in a Hoxton trendster club on single-of-the-decade contender Techno Fan, a song with a hook that’ll punch through you like a jack-hammer. Yet there’s dark, intriguing depths to Murph’s warts-and-all personal exposes that keep the songs writhing like crawling creatures beneath the diamond dust. "Last night I dreamt I died alone!" he wails over the Glasvegas space pomp of Last Night I Dreamt; "We need some pop psychology to keep us upbeat," he advocates on Walking Disasters, where two lovers find consolation in mutual self-loathing. And when closer Schumacher the Champagne breaks into the album’s all-out-metal crescendo, Murph bellows The Wombats’ defining, defiant statement: "Take me as I am, or not at all!"...full text
GuardianContrary to appearances – the cheeky-chappy demeanour, the catchy tunes – there was little irony to the title of the Wombats' debut album, A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation. Although glib on the surface, its songs were rooted in a bleakness that went on to consume frontman Matthew Murphy in a quarter-life crisis, fuelled, rather than relieved, by antidepressants. Four years later, This Modern Glitch documents Murphy's anxieties with deliberate, self-absorbed honesty and the prosaic rawness of recent experience. You don't notice this immediately, because the catchy tunes and irritatingly exuberant vocal riffs are still here in abundance. Only Anti-D, with its stagey strings, wears its bitter, melancholic heart on its sleeve. With every listen, however, the glittering synths of Our Perfect Disease and Tokyo (Vampires and Werewolves), and the screeching guitar riff of Last Night I Dreamt, sound more feverish and steeped in angst....full text
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