The Wombats - A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation

by Luke Frost Rating: Release Date:

I have always thought musical genres were too restrictive, who said Kate Bush was 'alternative' but Kate Nash was 'pop'? And just because you like Taking Back Sunday doesn't mean you can't like Take That right?

Well just to complicate matters, here come The Wombats.

Somewhere in the grey desolate wasteland between indie and pop, The Wombats have brazenly set up camp. If there is some mythical border between the two, A Guide To Love Loss & Desperation will stick it's flag just on the pop side, right after the passport control barrier and a statue of The Pipettes - but who's checking.

The beauty of The Wombats is that they do not pretend to be something they aren't. Fun, energetic and good for a sing along, A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation is 13 unashamedly pop songs. But as each one is riddled with hard-edged catchy guitar riffs, The Wombats manage to sit precariously on the musical genre fence.

The opening track 'Tales Of Girls, Boys And Marsupials' is a hypnotic start with the band repeatedly singing the title acapella, like a gospel choir on LSD. But it is an odd song, and by the time they begin clapping hands and freestyling with 'do's' 'mmm's and even a 'waah waah waah boo-bop' you will be turning your stereo down and digging out your receipt.

It should end there, and yet I guarantee that by the time track two 'Kill The Director' has finished playing you will be 'do-dooing' along like the band's missing 4th member.

'Kill The Director' whirls into life with a machine gun of drums and disjointed but curious tune that sounds like it has been thrown together in the back of a van. Lyrically, the song won't set you alight. For example, the "I don't care about the soaps / though I'm acting like I'm in an Eastenders episode" end to verse one is unlikely to be receiving an Ivor Novello nomination anytime soon. But as the song tips into the chorus, the band begin flexing a songwriting muscle that they use throughout this album: to write foot-tapping choruses that have you trying to sing along before you even know the words.

The best of the bunch come in 'Lost In The Plot', 'Patricia The Stripper' and 'Backfire At The Disco' which is The Wombats' take on the old rejected in a nightclub scenario.

The strained lyrics and hard guitars on 'Moving To New York' give it an edgier and more sophisticated sound that make it the most grown-up song on the album and show a likely progression for album two.

But the song most likely to impress is 'Let's Dance To Joy Division' that sees the band back dominating the disco and thankfully referencing something a bit cooler than Eastenders.

The smiling, tongue-in-cheek, guitar-fun of A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation is unlikely to be an album that will go down in history. Yet what The Wombats have created is an album so addictive that it will melt the heart of even the staunchest highbrow indie fan - just don't expect them to admit it.

Luke Frost

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