Like the Wombats and Lighthouse and the Whaler before them, the Waylayers ride the new UK alt-pop wave with “Magnets”
If you haven’t yet heard of the Waylayers, be warned — with touches of EDM-inspired electronica blended into their ear-catching pop choruses, these East London boys focus intensely on their hooks. Like the Wombats and Lighthouse and the Whaler before them, the band fits perfectly amid the new wave of UK pop hit-makers, blending hints of electronic inspirations into alternative pop where the emphasis on strong melody and concise songwriting leads to songs which won’t easily escape your memory. “Magnets” in particular brings the synthesizers to the forefront, as fuzzed-out vocals hover just outside the frame, teasing us to listen closer as we find ourselves singing along. A yet-untitled EP awaits fans later this spring, but if there was ever a band tailor made for a steady stream of hit singles, Waylayers are it.
If I’d heard this one a few months ago it could have easily been my song of summer. Okay, actually I did hear this song a month ago, but it fell off my desk only to earworm its way back in, and I’m damned glad for it. The Zolas have a distinct sound — “Knot In My Heart” opens with an oddly familiar strain akin to touches of Flight of the Conchords mock folk, but twists off-kilter keyboards and haunting vocals quickly enter the mix, crafting a pop hook as warped as anything you’ve heard this year. The band’s latest album, Ancient Mars, came out this week on Light Organ Records, and is definitely an album you’ll want on your Fall driving radar. If you enjoy music by the Wombats, with hooks taking modern techno-pop touches and merging them with 90s alt-nostalgia, the Zolas will be your new favorite.
Stockholm’s The Royal Concept has a ripping new video for “Gimme Twice,” which features the band being forced to perform like puppets under the total control of their handlers. The song itself is so mindlessly infectious, it instantly reminds one of the Wombats’ This Modern Glitch, which was dominated by hook-filled nuggets “Tokyo” and “Anti-D.” The key to enjoying the Royal Concept, however, is understanding they’re not taking themselves nearly as seriously as Wombats lead singer Matthew Murphy. To the contrary, this is dance-infused pop to set your feet on fire. There’s no time for serious considerations. “Come on, say it out loud so they all can hear!” their lead singer howls at the chorus “I’m the one for you …” By the end of the listen, you’ll believe it, and you’ll want to hear more. Thankfully, their full self-titled EP is available to provide exactly that.
Year of the Album — #041
The Wombats – “This Modern Glitch” (2011, 14th Floor Records)
“I’m only here because I think today deserves a really sordid end,” The Wombats‘ Matthew Murphy sings on “Jump Into The Fog,” a song which seems to serve as a lyrical center for This Modern Glitch, an album full of perfectly respectable indie pop with elements of disco and punk. But the album is marred by a surprisingly harsh, cynical streak, as Murphy tears apart any idea that there’s hope for happiness in life. “I bet they charge by the hour here,” he sings of a hotel room he’s brought a woman to. “[It’s] the kind of place you should bring your own UV ray/ It’s not a big problem with me love/ you don’t look that hygienic anyway.”
As a whole This Modern Glitch swings and misses, failing to become the glossy pop album it could be, while also failing to be as deep lyrically as one suspects Murphy wishes it was. While the music might get people dancing in the club, it’s unlikely to make a big impression beyond that. This is a prime example of a here today, gone tomorrow album — musically charming but in reality a schizophrenic vision which wallows in a bleak worldview.
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Read the whole review at Stereo Subversion!