God, I can’t believe I’m writing this but, a whole ass DECADE has passed to the day since Matthew Murphy (Love Fame Tragedy), Dan Haggis (Dan The Man), and Tord Øverland Knudsen, better known together as the iconic indie band The Wombats released their second full-length LP; This Modern Glitch. To this day one of the most interesting drops of an indie band who rose to fame in the late 00’s because of the left turn it took. Now I’m not saying it’s as sharp a turn as something like Radiohead’s Kid A was to OK Computer, but This Modern Glitch completely reinvented The Wombats sound at one of the strangest periods for modern music. It was 2011, around the time where pop music was changing completely, four on the floor beats, synth-ridden hooks, and the age of the pop ‘band’ was on its way out. So what does a Liverpudlian three-piece do for their next outing? Drop one of the coolest follow-up records of all time, that’s what.
This Modern Glitch takes that raw indie rock outfit from the band’s debut album, and polishes it off, wraps a layer of divinely played synths, and just dial up the wow factor to 11. Kicking off with Our Perfect Disease, slapping you straight in the face with this new synth focused style right off the bat, in fact, there’s no guitar until about 44 seconds in, and further yet there are no LOUD guitars until after a minute of playtime. It’s there with the vocal hooks and spunky guitars that the resonant Wombats sound comes out to play, and as the song progresses the signature twangy Bass tone from Knudsen gets thicker and heavier, and Murph’s guitar gets thrown about in your face more. Somehow it’s the perfect evolution from A Guide To Love Loss And Desperation, and as soon as it’s done the absolute anthem that is Tokyo (Vampires And Wolves) kicks off.
Tokyo is the perfect track for any party, lord knows any piss up I’ve been to hasn’t been complete without blasting this on full singing along to our heart’s content. The intro synth riff, the pulsating bass and the thumping drums carry this song straight into the aether. If you’re new to the sound of The Wombats, Tokyo is a brilliant starting point to get you hooked.
Jump Into The Fog slides right in next and acts as this slower but still effortlessly gorgeous power trip. Again combining the sounds of synth-led pop with the indie structure we’d already grown to love since the marsupials debut album back in 2007. Jump Into The Fog leaves you in a trance for 3 minutes and my god is it wonderful. It manages to pull off this wonderous mixture of texture and dynamics and is only heightened in a stripped-back setting like so. After being an epic synth led song, and now working as an acoustic rendition, swapping lead synths and guitars for cellos and pianos and reinventing the vibe to their own song? Absolutely majestic.
1996 is a weighty synth thumping beast of a tune, acting as the physicality of the themes within the track talking about the horrors of the modern world, longing to go back to the days of 1996 after not being “cut out for the modern life”. It’s the kind of song you just wanna drink and dance to and not have a single care in the world. The Wombats have perfected the danceable sad song and they make no exceptions here. You may feel like you’ve slowed down time, but if you’re soundtracked to The Wombats, you don’t have to worry about a thing.
This Modern Glitch is filled with delightful surprises such as the U-Turn that is Anti-D. A softer sentimental track, proposing the idea that this person could be your anti-depressant. Twinkled with violins that take you back to the days of brit-pop, but with synth under roots that ground you back to The Modern Glitch of life you’re in. Other brilliant tracks I have to gloss over sadly otherwise we really would be here all day, are the sparkly spotlights of Last Night I Dreamt… No no not The Smiths song. This track talks about someone having an epiphany after having a dream that they very bluntly, died alone. Which is fair enough, to be honest, hope you’re good Murph.
Girls / Fast Cars is a brilliant no-nonsense song, brilliant for any sort of workout or when you need to run for a train. I’ve tried it with both and it works, just try not to sing it out loud and look like a lemon at a knife fight in the bowels of Blackfriars station… Definitely more one of the more traditionally rocky songs of the album, but still matched with the synth-tastic sounds of 2011 and feeling right at home among the tracks of This Modern Glitch.
Techno Fan is a song I think everybody relates to at some point in their life. You stay away from something your whole life convinced it’s “not for me darling”, only to find yourself slap bang in the middle of a club moshing to something you’d never heard of before, or you know whatever it is you’ve avoided… It’s a cheerful, bright and spanky song that asks you to “move with me or get out of my face”. This song gets going and if you’re not on board it will sail on without you, and you’ll have to catch it again from the start because it’s got a motive that requires you to pay attention. It’s a phenomenal feeling and you just have to ride this train.
There’s so much identity within this album and so much nostalgia I associate with it and with this band. This Modern Glitch did the hard thing of adapting an indie band to the turn of the new decade, but it blended the two perfectly and without it, we surely wouldn’t have got any of the brilliant work from Murph, Dan, and Tord throughout The Wombats’ musical career and their own solo discographies.
The perfect summer album to play when the world feels wrong, and after the year we’ve had, with things looking up on the uncertain horizon, perhaps This Modern Glitch is what we need all over again.
Listen to This Modern Glitch (10th Anniversary Edition) on Spotify now. Presented proudly, 10 years running.