So, let’s say your 20-something years old. You’re a guy. Maybe you’re English, but you could just as easily be American or Australian, Canadian or Welsh. You’re basically a pretty happy person. You’ve got plenty of friends, you go out, have a good time, there’s dancing, parties, drinking, girls. Yup, everything’s going pretty swimmingly. Well, except for maybe that last one. Girls are the one thing that can still make you feel like you’re back in high school again, all sweaty and awkward and stupid. And now, let’s say that you’ve got a little free time on your hands and you decide to form a band. Well then, you might just sound like Liverpool’s Wombats.
The trio’s self-titled EP is made up of five songs about just that very feeling. The best of them are self-effacing and charming; with lyrics about trying you’re best with the ladies but screwing everything up anyway. Leading the charge is the opening track, “Backfire at the Disco”, is about a date that goes along fine until they hit the dance-floor and he blows it. “It was a chat-up line built not to impress”, lead singer Matthew Murphy sheepishly admits to start the second verse. “More a sleazy remark on her whorish dress”, before he continues into the chorus: “It backfired at the disco / She slapped me at the disco”.
And “Backfire the Disco” isn’t alone. It’s quickly followed up by “Kill the Director”, which has a fairly similar theme. It opens with Murphy singing, “I’ve met someone who makes me feel seasick”, and lamenting the fact that he can’t have her before getting to the catchy chorus: “If this is a rom-com / Kill the director / Kill the director”. Now that’s a chorus a single, 20-something lad can sing along to. A few tracks deeper into the record, “Little Miss Pipedream” is less dance-oriented than the other tracks on the EP. But it’s equally memorable for its bittersweet lyrics about dating someone so out of your league that you don’t feel like you can complain when she starts sleeping around with other guys.
And it’s the self-effacing charm of lyrics like those that will make you remember the Wombats instead of the actual music. Musically, they really aren’t doing anything all that special or original. The EP features the kind of beat-centric, dance-happy, guitar-riffing tunes that we’re all used to hearing from the indie-types these days. It’s not necessarily such a bad thing since the hooks are catchy and the beats are danceable. But on the songs whose lyrics aren’t as immediately loveable, there’s little to differentiate the Wombats from the scores of other dance-rock indie bands flooding the MySpaces and Last.fm’s of the world. Though the lyrics to “Moving to New York” and “Lost in the Post” are still about young unrequited love, they aren’t quite as clever and memorable as some of the others, and those songs, as a result, are pretty forgettable.
Of course, if you’re already a Wombats fan, you probably already know all this. Chances are you already have all of the songs included on this latest EP. Each of the five tracks have been previously released, most as singles and then again on 2006’s Girls, Boys and Marsupials full-length album, (with the exception of the sixth track, a remix of “Kill the Director”). And while you have to wonder why the band and their label felt the songs needed a third release, it is a solid effort, functioning as a sort of Greatest Hits. So for anyone who isn’t already a fan, but thinks they might like to be, The Wombats EP is as good a place to start as any.