Whomever said that the spirit and kinship of rock n’ roll is dead clearly fell victim to an ‘invitation lost in the mail‘ on Tuesday April 24th, as Liverpool’s own The Wombats poured their hearts-on-sleeve, dance ready, pop-rock to an adoring sold out Middle East Club in Cambridge, MA. Setting the tone straight away with a healthy dose of material from their latest outing “This Modern Glitch”, The Wombats waxed anthemically with every chant and cheer in the name of love, loss and devastation. Set to a simple yet extraordinarily punchy wall of sound, built upon high-hat heavy dance beats, pop-punk esque driving bass, lightly crunchy back-of-the-mix guitars that suggest 90’s alt-rock radio, and a heavy layer of 80’s synth- I’m shocked wasn’t played on a keytar. Or at least a Casio.
After each song, as lead singer Matthew “Murph” Murphy banters with the crowd, enticing and inspiring them to go as out of control as they may like, I see more and more that The Wombats mean to this audience what The Cure meant to those who grew up in the 80’s during the “kiss me, kiss me, kiss me” era. Upbeat pop that provided a soundtrack to your sadness; brutal honesty that bared as much vulnerability as it does angst. It’s sort of like how Mena Suvari described Everclear in the movie “Loser”, “self loathing complaint rock you can dance to.” Songs as such as their latest video “1996” with lyrics such as “I had no cares in the 1990’s. I knew of no downfalls.” and the song “Anti Depressant” whose chorus asks you to “let me be your anti depressant”, recognizing self-flaws, but musically not allowing you to dwell into it, when songs such as “Techno Party” beg you to “move with me, move with me or get out of my face.”
The last half of their set shown a younger Wombats, a side of their catalog much grittier, quicker, more sporadic and less refined, both musically and lyrically, with tongue-in-cheek giveaways like “Lets’ Dance To Joy Division”. They have a ways to go before reaching Cure like quality, but the contrast between both their back and current catalog suggest that they are well on their way, and their fans know this and love them for being part of their growth, sticking with them every step of the way as their music becomes more anthemic, refined and heartfelt. To be care free and in love, but well aware of the sorrow that surrounds you, while enjoying it to the fullest extent, with The Wombats symphonically sympathizing and guiding you along the way. What a life this crowd is loving to lead.
Music for Today’s Modern Middle Class Misery Enthusiast.