When Liverpool-based trio The Wombats, composed of vocalist/guitarist Matthew Murphy, bassist Tord Overland-Knudsen, and drummer Dan Haggis, created its debut album A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, the band cemented its place in the rock/pop world with its upbeat tempos, lighthearted lyrics, and catchy harmonies.
For its third album, Glitterbug, The Wombats have continued down the fun, electro-pop path that has become its signature sound. Glitterbug is fast-paced and easy to dance to, but perhaps less quirky than The Wombats’ past albums, propelling the band into music akin to radio-pop for the masses.
Glitterbug begins with “Emoticons,” a song that draws a connection between human interaction and the little animated icons that have become a dominant part of our digital communication. The song hints at the idea that our culture has more ways to communicate than ever, yet still has problems reaching out to one another. “All these emoticons and words/Try to make it better, but they only make it worse,” croons Murphy alongside a solid downbeat and melodic electronics. The instrumentals and vocals build in intensity as Murphy addresses the root of the problem. “Behind these metaphors/I want you literally/We crave the fiction/When we really need the truth,” he sings. Banal phrases aside, he does make a point.
Something about the pop-nature of the song and the idea of this obsession with emoticons drives the music to teenage-level crush, rather than a real seduction or romance.
This indecisive nature in regards to relationships continues throughout the album. In “Greek Tragedy,” Murphy is clearly blown away by the woman he’s pursuing: “She hits like ecstasy/Comes up and bangs the sense out of me,” he intones. Although comparing a woman to a drug may be trite, Murphy delivers some clear imagery. Sure, he likes the idea of the woman, but it seems like the relationship isn’t meant to be, as he sings, “The tarot cards say it’s not so bad/And the blades rotate; there’s just no landing pad.” It’s as if he’s in a perpetual state of indecision, suggesting a certain anxiety about relationships relating to today’s dating scene, where people seem more unsure about relationships than ever.
Glitterbug is a mostly upbeat album, with a one-song interlude that slows the pace down. Hard-hitting drums and electronic beats fill the background, along with sometimes-gritty guitars, which contrast with the uppity electronics. Much like bands MGMT and Passion Pit, The Wombats fill the void with abundant instrumentals. Some unexpected sounds make for nice, complementary interjections, such as an electronic tinkling trill in “Be Your Shadow,” or a harpsichord briefly playing in the background of “Your Body is a Weapon.”
The album isn’t without gems. “Headspace” has a more relaxed, ambient sound while continuing the album’s buoyant nature. And “The English Summer” is a bit more rock ‘n’ roll than electronic—it makes for a nice break from the rest of the noise.
Glitterbug lacks the maturity listeners may hope would come with a third album. But if The Wombats aim to have fun with its music, they’ve certainly achieved the goal.
The Wombats – Glitterbug tracklist:
- “Give Me A Try”
- “Greek Tragedy”
- “Be Your Shadow”
- “This Is Not A Party”
- “Your Body Is A Weapon”
- “The English Summer”
- “Pink Lemonade”
- “Sex And Question Marks”