Glasgow rock duo WOMPS, have been playing some rip roaring rock and roll as of late. This comes with news of the band’s debut album, Our Fertile Forever, which came out on Friday, June 10. The band’s Facebook page elaborates: “Nihilism and jaded optimism converge as Ewan Grant (guitar, vocals) and Owen Wicksted (drums, bass, synths) met resulting in angst driven, melodic hook-heavy pop songs with garage sensibilities”.
It added that, “a hunger to be creatively honest in a country so hell-bent on condemning original ideas and self expression has driven WOMPS from working supermarket jobs to playing big stages in the short time since their formation. The band have already toured Europe, UK and the east coast of the US including performances at CMJ, London Calling and Radio One’s big weekend festivals. Picking up support along the way from worldwide press including Consequence of Sound, The Guardian, Fred Perry and Brooklyn Vegan”.
The album’s opening track, “Plasticine”, begins with clanking bass and victorious guitar lines. The vocals appear to have a pop at what’s fake in this world. The drums attack in syncopation with those guitars for the more crashing attacks. Standout track, “Manners”, immediately starts with sizeable drama, syncopated hits of drum and bass under heralding guitar, guitar declaring intentions; warning shots that this won’t be your typical rock or indie fare.
What follows is quite exciting. Melodically, it’s propelled by scratchy indie guitar that frequently switches to classic rock power chords with a touch of bite and dissonance. Not too much of the latter, though, tuneful in an early Van Halen sort of way. So you’ve got an irresistible mix of Nineties indie rock; and late Seventies, early Eighties rock.
In terms of the rhythm section, a power of work is done, those drums never seem to stop, even in the more, ahem, sedate moments of the track, if you will. This is tub thumping that never misses a beat, working those toms for supreme satisfaction; and some high octane moments on the hi-hat, too. It really evokes danger, a freight train seemingly destined to come off the tracks, but never does because of the expert control exerted over the instrument.
This is aided with crunchy, potentially Rickenbacker, bass, punctuating the rhythm of the drums and accentuating the melody of the guitar and vocals. Speaking of the vocals, they have an imploring, almost stuttering quality to them. You can almost detect, vaguely, the famous Scottish accent amidst the vocals, though perhaps only fellow Scots would be able to pick it out.
Track three, “Live A Little Less”, is a driving, scatty, punky number adjoined to despairing and dejected vocals. The drums do a powerhouse of work, railing like a freight train racing along the tracks. It’s definitely guitar orientated, with some very angular, rhythmic riffs bouncing about this quite lively effort.
The following track, “Ritalin”, sounds as it should. Totally off the wall and an explosion of energy, it really has a vibe that connotates with trying to neuter the hyperactive tendencies of the youth. Clocking over just two minutes long, it ends as it started.
“Cancer Of The Bone” comes in with mournful guitar lines, and forlorn vocals conveying having given up on life. The vocals, additionally, are a tad distorted, giving it a low-fi feel that evokes the abject. The bass playing is thoughtful, though is lower in the mix as has been typical of the album so far. Maybe this is a mellow track. Yes, animated, but mellower than the rest so far.
Speaking of the bass, next track “Dreams On Demand”, opens with some more dejected vibes. This quickly mutates into an ugly, uncompromising rocker, with equally crunchy bass. A screeching solo permeates through the track, before some heavy drums round off things for the fadeout.
They pick up where they left off in “Cavity”, with explosive guitar melody heralding its start. The vocals, again, are a tad distorted, but add to the angst ridden vibe most think conjured to be from mainly alternative and grunge rock. Climbing guitar and bass, moreover, rise in unison with the vocal melody, giving it a, daresay, hummable quality.
“How Are You?” comes in with an heroic progression, as if to overcome the obstacles faced in the previous seven tracks, like having given up on life in “Cancer Of The Bone”. There are, however, melancholy aspects, as if to say the price paid for this victory was a dear one. That things might not be the same again, sort of thing. Driving bass runs right throughout this one and, although not too prominent or in the face, its ever constant presence is like the rock upon which you rely; the shoulder on which you cry.
Next you’ll find “Another Cell”. This one’s plain crazy, very energetic, indeed. The aforementioned bass is back to its slightly overdriven, clanking best. The fuzziness of the guitar definitely complements the unconventional vocals, a perfect pairing.
Album closer “Gift From God” proves there’s no end to the role the bass plays in this album, appearing to ring out with some sort of chorus, used for clarity, effect. Stabs of guitar, like the proud squawk of a dawn cock, punctuate the spaces left by some pretty busy, yet tidy, drums. The drums, however, turn into a cacophony of crash and regimented, military-esque rolls.
The vibe of the track is like, as developed before, overcoming obstacles and then realising the price to pay. This track furthers that theme, but then you reach some sort of dystopian world, one you didn’t fight to see another day for. Like you’ve been duped, this isn’t what you wanted or even expected. The closing minute, or so, is really atmospheric, like the collapse of all that’s good.
The album is, generally, full on rock, with some slightly more subtle moments. There isn’t an excess of these, making it, in many senses, bold, brash and satisfying. There’s definitely a good mix of light and shade, but they don’t feel the need to do an entire track acoustically to prove their chops.
“How Are You?” conveys rising to the occasion, conquering all before, that being the previous seven tracks. “Cancer Of The Bone” being one of them, as it portrays giving up. “Another Cell” meanwhile returns the album to the sort of energy it first kicked off with. “Gift From God” closes things, almost in a way that a no nonsense film tells you that the hero doesn’t always win the day. Satisfying in how down to earth it is, really.
Highlights beyond standout track, “Manners”, with its classic rock Van Halen moments and general excitement, include the one that opens proceedings, “Plasticine”. It’s clanking bass is what you crave in the subsequent tracks, and when it’s reprised latterly, the way you’re drip fed it only makes you feel more thirsty.
Like “Cancer Of The Bone”, for instance, with the bass way down in the mix, maybe symbolic of having given up. The following track, “Dreams On Demand”, then makes it nice and crunchy. Not only is thirst gradually satiated, there becomes a hunger of sorts. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, actually, with the driving bass of “How Are You?”. It’s perpetual, a rock in which to rely and confide, yet its prominence is markedly less than when the album started.
“Another Cell” almost brings it to that original, clanking classic best as heard in opener, “Plasticine”. The chorus effect on “Gift From God” climaxes this almost bass driven theme running throughout the album, the effect lending a certain clarity, or sophistication, to the sound. The opener was satisfying for its unrefined, deep qualities, and the closer is equally prominent, though maybe a tad more classy with the chorus effect. It’s an evolution of sound, basically.
WOMPS, that duo from Glasgow, have put together something that fans of a range of rock genres can enjoy. It’s full out rock is tempered with an almost subconscious understanding that things don’t need to get hard rock or heavy metal to be striking, sort of thing. WOMP’s Our Fertile Forever is out now, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Andrew Watson