Review Summary: A fun but inconsistent album that contains patches of brilliance marred by some very poor filler.
Comprising of two Scousers and a Norwegian, it’s safe to say that first impressions of the Liverpudlian indie band The Wombats are that they are far from normal. Listen to any of the four singles off of their debut album and it becomes transparent that these first impressions are spot on, as these boys have that special talent of knowing how to create a good tune using their patented brand of indie, guaranteed to fill any dance floor in the UK. However as good as the singles are, and they are really
good, the album is frustratingly lacking any new songs to get the blood pumping.
The Wombats are:
- Matthew Murphy: Vocals, lead guitar and keyboard
- Dan Haggis: Drums and backing vocals
- Tord Øverland-Knudsen: Bass guitar and backing vocals
Opening the album is the out of place and pointless intro “Tales of Boys, Girls and Marsupials” before the brilliant “Kill the Director” bursts into life. With witty lyrics, good vocals and one hell of a catchy chorus, this track is 2 minutes and 41 seconds worth of near orgasmic indie pop. This is a song made for dancing to, and, whether you can or not, you will at least find your feet tapping along to the frenzy paced rhythm of the song. But wait, it gets even better as the slower paced but superior “Moving to New York” takes over. Again this song is filled with great lyrics and has a fiercely catchy chorus, but what makes this track better than the previous one is the brilliant interplay between Murphy and Øverland-Knudsen, with the latter contributing a very good bass line.
Unfortunately the quality of songs doesn’t continue, as the next few songs are either bland , irritating or both. Take, for example “Party in a Forest (Where’s Laura?)” which not only shows a considerable drop in musical ability from the aforementioned songs, but also feels half-assed and has a very annoying, if catchy chorus. The next few songs pass by almost unnoticed before another of the singles “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” enters just as the album seemed to be going downhill. Whilst not as good as either “Kill the Director” or “Moving to New York” this song is definitely better than anything else on the album so far, and renews hopes of a strong second half, which regrettably doesn’t materialize as songs such as “Little Miss Pipedream” and “Dr Suzanne Mattox PhD” are just as dull as some of the songs in the first half of the album.
Musically the album is varied, when on form, which seems to be when done at relentless speeds, the guitar riffs and keyboard lines provided by Murphy drive the songs; however, when slowed down, they often don’t hold the same energy and vibe, and consequentially feel lifeless (“Moving to New York” is of course, the exception that proves the rule). The bass is often inventive, with Øverland-Knudsen obviously deciding very early on that he wanted to do something different, rather than play the same repetitive, easy bass lines that so often crop up in music like this. The drumming, while not spectacular, has its moments, and the end of “Kill the Director” whilst not technically demanding (just the bass drum played repetitively on its own) sounds very, very good when added to the vocals.
For the most part, the songs resemble the thoughts of angsty teenage boys as many of the songs are, whether obviously or not, about getting girls attention, dating, and then getting it all hopelessly wrong. Although clichéd, on the whole it works for the Wombats, as they never take themselves too seriously and the lyrics are more often than not sharp and fun such as on “Kill the Director” where you will hear, amongst others, the following:
“Carrots help us see much better in the dark,
Don’t talk to girls; they'll break your heart.
And this is my head and this is my spout,
They work together; yet they can't figure anything out.”
And this is where the Wombats really shine, when connecting with their target audience and making moderately funny remarks about everyday things such from the Royal Mail – “Lost in The Post” – to school uniforms –“School Uniforms”, and although the musical quality definitely wanes towards the end of the album the feel good factor will remain with the listener long after the album has finished.
Overall 3 - Good