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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Wombats’ Glitterbug Is the Group’s Most Refined Effort to Date

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 9:49 AM

click to enlarge The Wombats will perform at Blueberry Hill on Tuesday, December 1. - PHOTO VIA PARADIGM TALENT AGENCY
  • Photo via Paradigm Talent Agency
  • The Wombats will perform at Blueberry Hill on Tuesday, December 1.
Matt Murphy, Dan Haggis and Tord Øverland Knudsen formed the Wombats in 2003 while attending the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. After releasing a series of EPs, the band’s debut record, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, was released in 2007. Its lead single, “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” soon attracted the attention of the oftentimes fickle UK music press, putting the band on the map. 2011’s This Modern Glitch followed along the same lines as its predecessor, but with greater emphasis on synths and stronger basslines. The angst of the original was still there, though, as evident in the singles “Techno Fair” and the rompy “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves).”

After two albums of get-down madness, the band took a different approach for its third effort. Released after a four-year break, April’s Glitterbug offers a collection of shimmering pop melodies draped in Murphy’s autobiographical lyrics, replacing the indie-disco party grooves with more nurtured harmonies. This synthesis is evident from the onset of the LP’s first track, “Emoticons,” which restrains the keyboard-heavy din of the band’s second effort in favor of more percussion and guitars. 

Despite the shift in sound, the Wombats’ penchant for lyrical catchiness and infectious hooks remains a dominant force in its songs. Speaking by phone from Germany, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Haggis explains that the record’s inspiration came from Murphy’s intensely personal experiences. 

“All of the lyrics always come from a very honest place about what’s been going on with his life and times,” he says. “He was in Los Angeles and broke up with a girl, and then got together with a new girl.” 

The trio scored a coup when Bastille’s producer, Mark Crew, agreed to work on the new album. Although his involvement enhanced the Wombats aesthetically, it also meant taking a more precise route in reaching its destination. 

“We finished writing it in June of 2014, and then we spent three and a half months recording on and off,” Haggis says. “The producer was busy with other projects so we’d go and record something, and then we’d have a few weeks where he was doing something else, and then we’d do another week.” 

The stop/start method of production was new to the band. 

“It was a bit of a process with recording, to be honest, which was a shame. But we really wanted to work with Mark Crew,” Haggis explains. “So we just ended up having to fit into his schedule. It wasn’t the quickest of processes, but we made sure we did it properly, the way we wanted to do it, so that we were happy with the results rather than just rush something out quickly.”

The members of the Wombats are currently in the throes of an American tour, which concludes in December. After this round of shows the group plans to start working on new material. Haggis is not sure what to expect with the next release. 

“We’re all influenced by a lot of different music, so until we start working on the next album we don’t have any ideas of where we want to go or what we want to do with it. We approach each album as it comes,” he says. “I think as a band we’ve always really admired bands like Radiohead that have evolved from album to album and are always pushing forward, trying to challenge themselves.” 

But for now, Haggis is just happy to be on the road.

“It’s amazing,” he says. “Of course, it gets tiring sometimes. We’ve been touring since January. There are moments when you’re on a tour bus and you haven’t slept properly for a few nights, and you just want to lie in your own bed. But the positives outweigh the negatives by a thousand times. You get up onstage every night, no matter how tired you’re feeling, or missing home and friends and family, girlfriends and the rest of it, and you see people having a great time and singing along and smiling. And any negative thoughts you have go straight out the window. I couldn’t have wished for anything more.”

The Wombats
8 p.m. Tuesday, December 1. Blueberry Hill, 6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City. $12. 314-727-4444.

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