They’re back and they mean business: body-blow riffs, thunderous drums, killer momentum and hooks big enough to catch marlin. Cry Like a Man is I, Wombat 2.0. And, it packs a wallop — with a smile on its face, of course. When you call your opening salvo “The Vest Has Sleeves,” then proceed to combine a steamroller rock-out with several winks and nods, then you (and by “you” I mean I, Wombat) are definitely onto something. “Sorry About Your Luck” sprints along atop a burbling bassline and, no kidding, a bit of a prog vibe here and there. Throughout Cry Like a Man, you can visualize singer/guitarist Chad Fry leaning into the microphone, almost physically pushing his way out of the speakers. It’s easy to imagine these guys holding their own on bigger stages; their sonics and energy can’t be denied.
While the overall whole of Cry Like a Man is definitely uptempo, the boys manage to sneak in several surprises and changeups. “Behind the Sun” actually kicks off with some tasty slide guitar and settles into an almost classic-rock soulful groove. If you intend to go to an I, Wombat show soon (and you certainly should), be sure to install that lighter app on your phone and prepare to wave it high during this crowd pleaser.
The tempo soon ratchets up and the hard rocking continues on “Give It Up,” fueled by a Foo Fighters-approved chorus. One point to make here: I, Wombat don’t fall into an easy-to-define category. They’re just as much about rip-snorting rawk as they are about memorable hooks. They have their out-and-out metal moments, but they always manage to keep grins from turning into grimaces. That’s not to say they’re a “funny” band, but they pull off what so few bands can do by simultaneously conveying toughness, raw power and a sense of fun. Hell, “Homemade Johnny” veers between Blackfoot corn stompin’ and Mudhoney abandon — and even shows off not only a killer guitar solo from Lou Cucinelli but gives bassist Darren Monroe his own four-string spotlight moment.
Understated and wound tight at first, then exploding into what we shall now refer to as “vintage Wombat,” the fabulously titled “In Loving Memory of Chrissy Snow” could be a long-lost nephew of a vintage Naked Raygun tune. Fry playfully rolls “All that ego’s gonna eat your head / All this libido’s gonna break your bed” off his tongue; then the fireworks kick in. You don’t have to be a True Rock Fan to appreciate this; just turn it up and instinct will do the rest.
Want a little respite after all that jumpin’ and sweatin’? Stick around for “Saint Louis” which slows things down – for a while, anyway. By album’s end, the attentive listener is left both tuckered out and psyched to head back in for another round. Cry Like a Man is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders — and enjoying the drive.
Catch I, Wombat live on March 23 at CS3, where they’ll debut Cry Like a Man in all its glory.
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