Is This What It Feels Like To Feel Like This 12” EP
After having embarked on a career which has seen the band release six full-length albums, one compilation and nine EPs with startlingly minimal popular notice, there’s no way to deny that The Wombats are one of the most tragically underrated bands of all time. Someone, somewhere could go so far as to call the band’s ability to evade public notice as comical; The Wombats’ records are great but, no matter when they come out, the record-buying public is always, always, always looking the other way and a fraction of the people who would appreciate or even revere the band for their talent actually hear the music.Because of that tradition, it doesn’t feel likely that any great number of people will notice the Is This What It Feels Like To Feel Like This 12” EP unprompted, but there’s no doubt that the release is deserving of any help to get it presented to as many ears as possible by reviews like this one.
Listeners won’t be able to stop themselves from heaving a sigh of satisfaction at the moment “I Think My Mind Has Made Its Mind Up” begins to blast out a perfect mid-tempo Brit-Pop anthem to open the A-side of the EP. There, listeners will be unable to avoid feeling as though they’ve fallen into a time warp to the Nineties as singer/guitarist Matthew Murphy blasts out a bombastic chord progression which feels as though it might have been lifted straight out of 1996 before delivering a vocal performance which (again, like the Brit-Pop songs from the Nineties) finds a certain joy in calamity (check out lines like, “Welcome to the end/ The seal that seals my fate/ I’ve found a new loose end/ A new figure of eight”) and successfully find a way to be perfectly open-minded while also seeming to feel like a most direct kind of poetry. It is, simply said, the best kind of pop fodder that young listeners new to the form will feel is profound while more experienced listeners will appreciate it for its inherent familiarity – even if it is brand new.
After “I Think My Mind Has Made Its Mind Up” sets a great Brit-Pop precedent for this EP, “Dressed To Kill” continues along the exact same vein as Murphy takes some Molly in the bathroom, makes some nunchucks out of bamboo and decides to have the best worst night of his life before attempting to exorcise his demons while the tape rolls on “Demon” to close out the side. Combined, the three cuts that make up the A-side of the Is This What It Feels Like To Feel Like This EP are the ideal temptation to get listeners hyped for the record’s B-side; they play so well that some critics could complain (justifiably) that, while they’re good songs there aren’t enough to truly be a satisfying experience.
…And, as hungry as listeners may be for more as they flip the record over, the title track which opens the B-side of this EP sorely tests that hunger. “Is This What It Feels Like To Feel Like This” blurs the lines between the pharmaceutically indulgent “night before” and the sort of gray and awkward “morning after,” and not only nails the sound of Brit-Pop at its Nineties peak perfectly, it makes believers out of every college kid who is just now beginning their “experimental phase” that the sentiments in the song are not anachronistic. Here, Murphy manages to sound like he feels regret and remorse for the night before, but doesn’t rule out the possibility that the excess will all come to pass again in the near future (see the dry-eyed “You can self-improve, but you’re on your own” warning which appears late in the song’s running).
The drag of the “below mid-tempo” walk which characterizes “Same Old Damage” hangs onto the mild regrets which colored the cut before it, but The Wombats successfully turn the side around so it’s looking upward as “Good Idea At The Time” closes out the EP. True, there is a bit of sadness and a bit of regret laced into the song, but the beat leaves a positive impression and an enduringly good vibe. Murphy, for his part, betrays that he’s obviously sick of the directions that the EP has taken as he near spits syllables through the whole song and finally just asks, “Why have you gotta analyze it? I just want to forget about it” in the chorus. By the end, as everything tapers off, the singer offers one last defense with the words, “It was a good idea, at the time”as the song ends, and he’s not wrong.
After having gone front-to-back with the Is This What It Feels Like To Feel Like This EP, there’s no question that The Wombats have, once again, produced a great release which deserves praise – there is no weak cut among these six, they can each sustain existing fans as well as potentially winning new ones. All that really needs to happen to get the EP over is for people to hear it – but will they? That is the question; here’s hoping fate works in The Wombats’ favor, this time. [Bill Adams]
The Is This What It Feels Like To Feel Like This 12” EP is out now. Buy it here, directly from The Wombats’ official website.