(Awal)
The trio repurpose their sound from post-punk to pop-facing with a polished and snappy fifth album

Scroll down the Wombats’ Spotify page and you come to the section headed “Fans also like”. It features a selection of their mid-00s contemporaries, fellow strivers in the league of what was cruelly dubbed “landfill indie”: the Pigeon Detectives, the Kooks, the Enemy, Scouting for Girls. As everyone knows, fashion is cyclical and this stuff currently lurks at the foot of fortune’s wheel: old enough to seem like yesterday’s news, not old enough to seem appealingly retro. Give it 10 years and they’ll be packing them in at 00s revival festivals, as their Britpop forebears are today, but for now, it’s strictly self-released albums and tours of venues euphemistically described as “intimate”.

By rights, the Wombats should be in the same boat as those bands, more anonymous than their peers (close your eyes and try to visualise frontman Matthew “Murph” Murphy, let alone drummer Dan Haggis), they were dumped by their major label in the same year the NME became a free sheet in the face of slumping sales. But the Wombats’ recent interviews come peppered with unexpected phrases: “their studio in LA”, “forthcoming gig at the O2 Arena” and “produced by Jacknife Lee”, the latter fresh from working with U2. It’s not just that they now play far bigger venues than 15 years ago, it’s that the venues come packed – as every reviewer notes in astonishment – with kids too young to remember the Wombats’ first flush of fame. Last year, their 2015 single Greek Tragedy belatedly went gold in the US: between the original and a subsequent remix by Swedish producer Oliver Nelson in 2020, it’s racked up nearly 175m streams on Spotify.

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