On "Moving to New York," a single from the 2007 album A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, Liverpool power trio The Wombats sound convincingly like a band that's about to shake itself apart. A lot of this is down to drummer Dan Haggis, whose manic kit work seems to stumble along just ahead of the rest of the song. On the chorus, Haggis gets a quick, panicky sound out of the hi-hat cymbal, as though the music itself is hyperventilating.
Meanwhile, singer/guitarist Matthew Murphy puts just the right voicing on lyrics like "I put one foot forward and ended up thirty yards back / And am I losing touch or am I just completely off the track?" Part of it's the thick Liverpudlian accent, but part of it is the way Murphy doesn't sound in the least like he's having a good time. "I'm moving to New York cause I've got problems with my sleep," Murphy moans, and it's clear that he knows this is a losing gambit; New York is not the place you want to go in order to become well rested.
The Wombats have a reputation for being cheeky, fun-loving guys, even in the context of 21st-century Britpop, a music scene that's not exactly funereal. It's all the more impressive, then, that they sound so ragged and desperate here. "Moving to New York" is a fun tune with immense replay value, but it makes actually moving to New York sound like an act of self-immolation.
On iTunes: The Wombats / "Moving to New York"