The Wombats Proudly Present... This Modern Glitch(14th Floor) Buy it from Insound
Despite managing to find their own comfortable niche – being too unremarkable to ever be someone's favourite band but quirky enough to soundtrack student union indie nights across the country – The Wombats looked set to be remembered, at best, as a landfill indie act. However, their second album could see that change, as the band have ditched the guitars and got in über-producer Jacknife Lee in a bid to boldly reinvent their sound. Or to make a (very) late attempt to cash in on nu-rave.
Cash in or not, ...This Modern Glitch starts out promisingly – Our Perfect Disease is a fizzy bit of fun, that builds from an understated bubbly synth line into a big, bolshie chorus with frontman Matthew Murphy's yelped vocals nicely complimented by the rest of the band's harmonies, then, after a quiet middle eight, it comes back even rowdier for a spirited finish. Second track Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves) sounds... well... pretty much the same with the understated synth opening, yelped chorus, harmonies, and the quiet middle eight going into a big finish all present and correct. And the third track? Understated synth – check, yelped chorus – check, harmonies – check, quiet middle eight going into a big finish – check. If it's irritating to read this, imagine how bad it is having to listen to it, over and over. Apparently The Wombats only managed to write the one song for the album and so have decided to just repeat it ten times, offering little-to-no variation in tone or tempo – although to be fair to them, they do stick a different synth preset on for each song so you can tell them apart (or in the case of Anti-D, substitute the synthesizers for a string section as, like the bad old days of Britpop, The Wombats subscribe to the theory that adding strings equals instant class).
Of course, nobody ever made claims for The Wombats to be great musicians, their appeal, as limited as it might have been, lay in their lyrics – if you hummed one of their songs it's doubtful that anybody would have recognised it, but mention 'that band who did that Joy Division song' and odds are someone would know what you were on about. But the band even manage to screw up here as each song delivers its fair share of clunkers (as for the worst, it's a close call between Anti-D's unforgivable couplet 'Please allow me to be your antidepressant/I too am prescribed as freely as any decongestant' and 1996's appalling 'Though war was breaking out all around me/My concerns were with prank calls'). Time and time again, the band strive for the earthy wit of an Alex Turner or even a Morrissey (it's a comparison the band are desperately trying to encourage with the title Last night I dreamt...) but merely offer up observations that ring completely false, and stretch them even past breaking point to make them fit into tortured rhyming schemes.
Everything about ...This Modern Glitch, from the title's 'Proudly Presents' prefix downwards is an irritating affectation. Although by releasing an album so cold, calculated and astoundingly lazy, The Wombats can now 'proudly' stand out as being a terrible band, rather than a merely mediocre one.17 May, 2011 - 08:03 — Mark Davison