On Second Thought – This Modern Glitch by The Wombats

Each week, we’ll take a retrospective look on albums which we think are either criminally underrated or woefully overrated, and why they actually rock/suck.

The year is 2011 on a barren landscape known by many as Earth. The indie rock scene has become a desolate wasteland filled with grotesque creatures who still think it’s 1994, or worse… 2008. Denizens must adapt or die a slow, obscure death. Out of this nightmarish scene however, battle-scarred and weary, emerges the pluckiest of creatures. That creature is a Wombat. Three of them in fact, armed with their brilliant second album This Modern Glitch.

Cast off by many as indie-disco stalwarts and nothing else, this new wave-indebted sugar rush of an album shocked me as much as anyone else. It was the perfect ruse: pretend you’re shit then reveal that you’re actually quite good. Songs like ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’ and ‘Our Perfect Disease’ shamelessly drop almost all guitars and revel in the joys of synths – and what joys they are. Unabashedly catchy with actual emotional substance behind the music, they could have come straight from the eighties if not for singer/guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Murphy’s genuinely modern sense of humour. And every time the sugar buzz is about to get too much they hit you with a savoury sucker punch, like in the plaintive and string-laden ‘Anti-D’ or the muscle-flexing stomp at the end of ‘Schumacher the Champagne’, with Murphy demanding ‘take me as I am, or not at all’. The difference now is that he’s actually to be believed.

Between their first album and this one, the band switched from ‘too cool to care’ sixth-form cynicism to a full celebration of that joyfully awkward period of everyone’s lives. Songs like ‘Techno Fan’ and ‘1996’ describe how ‘sugar filled the whole of my body as I urged it on to grow’ behind slick keyboard riffs that, most amazingly of all, still feel human. Think ‘Teenage Kicks‘ with keyboards.

Granted I was in the archetypal ‘awkward teen’ stage when the album was released in 2011, but that doesn’t explain why the album still resonates as far more than a phase five years on. Maybe teenage dreams really are that hard to beat…

You can listen to the album by clicking here, or buy the album here to fully celebrate those awkward teenage years.