The Wombats, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Reviewed,Chris Mugan
Thursday 17 March 2011 01:00

Two years may be a long absence, but as his fans readily accede to singer Matthew Murphy's request for another wave, the empathy between both parties remains strong.

In 2008, the Liverpool trio could have sold out this venue, thanks to an unremitting series of tours to promote 2007 debut album, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation. With a series of perky singles, The Wombats hovered between Kaiser Chiefs' laddish cheer and the abrasive bonhomie of Scouting for Girls. Fellow scouser Paul McCartney suggested he could produce the next record from these graduates of pet project the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Instead, the threesome went to Los Angeles to work with a variety of producers on the long-awaited follow-up, finally out next month.

Bouncing with enthusiasm from the off, the band's frontman, debonair tonight in shirt and jacket, is keen to make up for lost time. "Our new album is supposed to be out now," he says apologetically during the introduction to another number from This Modern Glitch, thanking fans for accepting supposedly unfamiliar material. Such a warm reception is slightly suspect. Two singles have already come out, but the audience welcome album tracks as old favourites, suggesting they are ahead of the label's marketing strategy. Still, the enthusiastic response suggests Murphy and his band's attempt to mature is going well. Gone are the animal costumes and furry mascots, swept away with the awkward tales of teen embarrassment, replaced by an admission that behind the curly-haired performer's cheery exterior lives a more vulnerable figure.

Alluded to previously on the deceptively jaunty "Here Comes the Anxiety", Murphy's previous dependence on meds is made explicit on the more measured "Anti-D". Here and elsewhere, the singer and Norwegian bassist Tord Overland Knudsen use synths to break up the relentless fizz of their jangly guitar pop.

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