November 7th, 2007 by admin
Chistmas has come early again this year in the form of the Wombats long-awaited debut album, A Guide To Love Loss & Desperation. Nearly a year after my initial love affair with the band, they’d begun to slip off my radar a bit after the luster of recent singles “Backfire At The Disco” and “Let’s Dance To Joy Division” wore off much faster than anticipated and the unveiling of an LP tracklist comprised almost entirely of tracks I’d heard before. My expectations weren’t low per se, but they definitely weren’t high, especially after a year in which bands with promising early singles consistently produced disappointing debut records (see: the Maccabees, Good Shoes, Air Traffic, et. al). But fucking fuck motherfuck, this is an amazing record.
The Wombats early singles established them as an endearing guitar-pop trio who made their money on wonderful three-part harmonies, playful anecdotal lyrics and blissful melodies, but somewhere along the line they apparently decided to evolve into a band of the motherfucking ROCK variety. I never would have classified them as such prior to the album, but the fact of the matter is, this shit does indeed rock. The amps are turned up to 11, the guitars are placed at the front of the mix and processed through heavy fuzz, and the three-piece generate more noise than you ever thought they had in them. These elements converge to give the tracks a truly visceral edge and inject the album with more vitality than perhaps any Britpop record since Silent Alarm. The mixing and production work is flawless, with the band’s new, heavier approach nicely complemented with just enough synthetic flourishes to give the band a polished, unique sound without overdoing it. Elements that would be overly-cute, even cloying (a capella intros, childrens choirs, Bridget Jones references) in another band’s catalog sound perfect and endearing in this context; the Wombats can do whatever the fuck they want as long as they keep kicking out jams of this caliber.
The brilliant production work and new recordings makes the fact that there are only three new tracks here a complete non-issue. Old favorites (”Moving To New York”, “Lost In The Post”, “My First Wedding”) take on wonderful new life in their reincarnations, promising demos (”School Uniforms”, “Dr. Suzanne Maddox”) come alive in technicolor in their finished versions and even aforementioned singles “Backfire” and “Joy Division” (which appear unchanged from their single releases) take on new worth and enjoyability in the context of the full record. Throughout the album, frontman Murph will win you over with his anecdotal lyrics of his romantic misadventures, and though he’s singing of failure and despair, there’s always a hint of a smile or a tongue planted firmly in cheek. Having experienced nothing but the album’s nominal themes of love, loss and desperation as a result of the opposite sex, it seems a whole cast of female antagonists (Laura, Susie, Patricia, Dr. Suzanne Maddox, even Bridget Jones) are conspiring against him. Rest assured though, he’ll have the last laugh. The trio’s uncanny ability to write harmonies in which backing vocals pop in and out of the mix with a mechanical precision at exactly the right time, coupled with the band’s combination of accessible riffs and addictive hooks, should bring them massive success in no time (and with massive success, of course, comes fly-ass honeys). All in all, this is the complete package… the Wombats have arrived. Debut of the year? You better fucking believe it.
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