It’s been four years since The Wombats released their sophomore album This Modern Glitch and very nearly dominated the UK and Australian music charts. They’ve slowly released songs since, with Your Body Is A Weapon dropping back in 2013, but since the rest came out this year it wasn’t anything overly consistent. But now they’re finally here with Glitterbug, and while the singles didn’t signal any major change in sound, it’s something to be thankful for.
This Modern Glitch was so strong an album because it mixed synth-pop and indie rock so effortlessly. Your Body Is A Weapon bore big similarities to this style, particularly those leaning heavily towards indie rock. The big constant bombardments of shining synth melodies were streamlined to the point that they came in at just the right moment, giving the song emphasis rather than drowning it in sound. While those songs were enjoyable on This Modern Glitch, there was something more endearing here.
It’s a trend that a lot of Glitterbug follows closely. The synth-pop elements and melodies are still there, but now they’re balanced with the indie rock elements more often, with the electronics sounding particularly retro and often even showing a real 80s flair. This Is Not A Party headlines these songs perfectly, with the stuttering electronic bass line and bright melodies mixing with the modern indie rock production in a way that sounds fresh and interesting. Matthew Murphy’s heavily accented singing voice hasn’t changed a bit, and it’s truly a benefit here as well as everywhere else.
The album shines with songs like this, but the pop monster Be Your Shadow truly steals the show. The bouncy instrumental hook in the chorus stays in your head long after the album ends, and it’s a perfect example of the synth mayhem of This Modern Glitch mixing in with the newfound nostalgic retro style of Glitterbug. On the opposite side, the album’s synth free indie rock song Flowerball shows they’re still able to do away with all of that and make something good entirely on their instrumental and vocal merits. The fact that the two best songs are on such entirely opposite ends on their spectrum is impressive, to say the least.
Jumping between different levels and mixtures of their two biggest influences is something that’s worked for The Wombats in the past. This time it really goes to the next level, refining the sound to something that’s calmer and more coherent, allowing the hooks to really shine through the mix. They don’t step wrong once, with every song having a particular merit to it that makes it worth repeating again and again. If you’ve ever wanted a proper representation of what makes The Wombats such a great band, you’ll want to listen to Glitterbug.