Live Review: The Wombats

Live Review: The Wombats

Hammersmith Apollo, London, Monday March 14

[i]Where there is pop to be played, the Scousers are here – but not where there are risks to be taken[/i]

It’s nearly unimaginable that three-and-a-half years have passed since [a]The Wombats[/a] released their debut. What would seem an age for most must feel like a lifetime for their once-teenage audience, now nudging their 20s. Yet, with a brace of familiarly irreverent new indie-pop singles denting the charts, tonight is proof there really are more kids where the last ones came from.

Hampered by the delayed release of album number two, and with future foot-stompers such as [b]‘1996’[/b] meeting with muted approval, the trio lean heavily on old favourites like [b]‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’[/b] and [b]‘Kill The Director’[/b] to set the crowd leaping. Nothing much has changed. Love ’em or loathe ’em, they’ve still an ear for a dentist-botheringly sugary hook and an eye for a goofy lyrical humdinger ([b]‘Anti-D’[/b]’s syllable-mangling chorus reads, “[i]Please allow me to be your antidepressant/I too am prescribed as freely as any decongestant[/i]”).

Of the new songs, [b]‘Jump Into The Fog’[/b] makes most impact, with its tub-thumping drums briefly puncturing the wearying blanket of chirpy confection. But there lies [a]The Wombats[/a]’ fatal flaw: while every one of these painstakingly chiselled, aerodynamic singles may provide an immediate rush, even their best moments fail to resonate past their three-odd minute lifespans, quickly turning their set into something of an endurance test. Great pop takes great risks and [a]The Wombats[/a] need to learn that it’s better to take a leap into the void that to be swallowed by it.

Tom Edwards