When British indie-pop trio the Wombats first came on the scene, it was hard to know whether or not to take them seriously.
First, they were named the Wombats. Past that, in a world filled with angsty alternative music, they were making eager guitar rock that wasn’t afraid to seem a little silly.
Breakout 2007 single “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” struck a cute-but-grounded tone, with lead singer Matthew Murphy proclaiming “Everything is so wrong/but we’re so happy.”
That song tumbled over itself with enthusiasm, with off-kilter guitars and frantic rhythms supporting Murphy’s Liverpudlian twang. If nothing else, it strove to impress the listener with the band’s unflagging good nature.
Since the release of their latest album “Glitterbug” in 2015, though, the Wombats have traded their youthful eagerness for anthems and danceability. Before, they wanted to steamroll you with positive vibes; now, they want to make sure that the party never ends.
A near-constant ’80s dance beat carries almost all of “Glitterbug,” punctuated by oohs, aahs and lilting synth melodies that give way to anthemic choruses.
Lyrically, the Wombats are actually more world-weary: after all, “Glitterbug” is a breakup album. “I just want to be the sum of your broken parts/I just want to be your creature in the dark,” sings Murphy on “Be Your Shadow,” giving into the addictive thrill of the abusive relationship he’s trying to leave behind. Thankfully, the darker subject matter doesn’t overshadow the Wombats’ feel-good nature: It just adds some balance.
This contrast between the lightly depressive lyrics and the dance music behind them actually makes a lot of sense for the Wombats. They broke through with an overeager song about dancing through depressing times. Now, that’s exactly what they’re trying to do.
The Wombats play an all-ages show at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 in the Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.). Tickets start at $18.
– Daniel Bauer