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Who’s Next ’08: The Wombats

The next brit-rock jesters. BONUS VIDEO: They serenade NYC from a stage in Liverpool.

In a nutshell: Brought together in 2003 by a love of lager and lyrics about odd animals, singer/guitarist Matthew “Murph” Murphy, drummer/singer Dan Haggis, and bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen met while enrolled at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, cofounded by Paul McCartney. Their fondness for fauna came out in their very first composition, “An Ode to Charles the Goat.” “He’s got drug issues and gives a goat in a neighboring field a sexually transmitted infection,” explains Murphy. Eventually, the band turned serious — they played more than 270 shows in 2007 — and released their U.K. debut last November.

What’s the big deal: Fizzing with laddish humor and lung-emptying choruses, the Wombats’ disc is Britpop suited for frenzied pogoing. Think Franz Ferdinand’s sharp corners mixed with Art Brut’s meta-poetry. In “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” Murphy unites his love for “miserable music” and for a girlfriend, which crystallized while “dancing on a table to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart,’ drinking vodka and orange.” “The songs are therapy for me,” he says. “At the same time, you have to take the piss out of yourself.”

Meet the Beatle: Attending a Fame-style program has its perks. In 2006 their alma mater helped fund a trip to China, where they played in front of 10,000 people. Even better, however, was a school-sponsored visit with their Liverpudlian benefactor. “[McCartney] was telling me when he used to smoke weed, he’d get hung up for three weeks on one word,” says Haggis. The Wombats, thankfully, stick to liquor.

A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation (no label yet) is out this spring.

Now Watch This:
The Wombats – “Moving to New York”