Following on from 2015’s Glitterbug, Liverpool born indie legends The Wombats are back with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, their most mature record yet and their most challenging one, created on a new label with the band spanning continents.
Whilst famed for their indie hits including ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’, a staple of student night’s across the U.K. 11 years after it’s release, The Wombats have made a shift to alternative pop this album, however each track still is wonderfully indie and for the most part, it still features a ton of acoustic guitar.
Fans will already know ‘Cheetah Tongue’ and ‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’, the latter having been played massively on BBC Radio 1 and earning over 3 million streams on Spotify. The Wombats are known for their incredibly vivid scene painting lyrics that require little to no imagination to really envisage. They welcomed us back into their weird world with this somehow relatable track, despite it focusing on such a bizarrely beautiful metaphor. ‘Cheetah Tongue’ is a smart opener to the album, it feels like a true introduction to what you’re about to hear, but they’ve crafted a strong, flexible standalone track.
That’s the thing with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life – each song is so well crafted and multi-layered and almost every track has a memorable name, ‘I Only Wear Black’ is too relatable for some of us. It’s probably the track closest to their older back catalogue, however like the rest of the album, it clearly shows their growth and evolution from the indie-est of indie to indie/alt-pop double threats.
The literal centrepiece of the album, coming in at track 6 of 11, ‘Lethal Combination’ is almost a ballad. Singer Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy says that this is about his partner and himself, how they’re just terrible for each other but that’s just the way it is. So much of this album is incredibly personal and raw beneath the colourful lyrics, this track included. This is Murph’s partner’s favourite track, to be honest, it’s one of our’s too. It’s so different to the rest of the album and it’s just simply so good.
This record is a collection of what it feels like to live the human experience, painted in such a bizarrely phrased way, it’s kinda like what you’d get if you could plug headphones into a Dalí painting. As Murph puts it, it’s an album about him ‘trying to live an adult life. And failing’. Whilst it may be his experience, listeners will find comfort in some of these tracks; it’s hard not to find some sort of solace in the line ‘I’m trying to be human but that never works’ from ‘Out Of My Head’. Throughout the album are references sprinkled to Murph’s move to L.A. and what he describes as the ‘nightmarish side of the Californian Dream’.
‘Ice Cream’ is the standout track from the entire album, though they make it hard to choose just one. It’s quintessentially Wombats, but a tad experimental with its heavy use of bass and guitar riffs. It’s a complete genre spanning success, the breakdown is almost completely out of place but fits in perfectly, not many bands can accomplish that.
The record comes to a conclusion with a blending of acoustic and electric- The Wombats have solidified their name in futuristic alt pop alongside Alt-J and Wolf Alice, but they aren’t leaving their indie roots behind. They end on an unfinished note, the track ‘I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do’ isn’t resolved, it isn’t finished, and neither are they. This is their best work yet, and the album they claim they should have always made.
Now they’re off on a sold-out UK tour. It’s clear love for The Wombats has never died down and after this record, it never should.