Never judge a post-new-wave-revival band by its fast songs. The chaps in these bands practically spring out of the womb playing up-tempo disco burners, so it comes as no surprise that most of them can provide a quick guitar-fueled sugar high. But what happens when the tempo slows, the songs stretch out, and the band can’t hide behind its infectious energy any longer? That’s when fans learn whether their beloved XTC-aping group is just a trend or something built to last.
On their self-titled EP, the members of Liverpool’s Wombats only slow down for one track, “Little Miss Pipedream.” It’s a cutesy little ballad about more or less what you’d expect: the fantasy girl that lead singer Matthew Murphy just can’t catch. “I’d cheat a priest just to get to you,” he sings wistfully, accompanied by sleigh bells, melodica, and a jingling keyboard line that mimics the sound of an old music box. The song works as a diversion, but it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special on its own terms.
Of course, it goes without saying that the Wombats tear it up on dance-floor-ready anthems like “Backfire at the Disco” and “Kill the Director.” But that’s almost expected. “Moving to New York” accomplishes a more impressive feat, managing to convey a sense of melancholy and disenchantment while maintaining its brisk pace. Overall, the band thrives on sounding young and confused, which works great in the short term but doesn’t necessarily bode well for a long and healthy career.
The biggest knock against this EP isn’t so much the material as it is the fact that all five of its original tracks appear on the group’s recently released debut LP, A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation. It does not contain the Wombats’ breakout single, “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” and the only thing that might pass for an exclusive (a CSS remix of “Director”) is currently streaming on the group’s MySpace page. As such, it’s strictly an item for budding Wombats completists. Odds are there aren’t a whole lot of those folks just yet.
“Kill the Director” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIY226ZjhFA
“Backfire at the Disco” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4R89v1-wbo
“Moving to New York” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGrgDqxqag0