Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life
British indie poppers The Wombats surprised everyone with the release of their fourth album so soon after their third, Glitterbug, and perhaps it was a little too soon.
If you were slightly underwhelmed by the three singles released before the album, Lemon to a Knife Fight, Turn and Cheetah Tongue you weren’t alone, but after listening to the whole album, these are some of the best tracks.
Fourth track Black Flamingo has an introduction that will really get you listening but beyond it there aren’t many more highlights. Lyrical content is predictable, and the lines are hard to understand due to a large amount of nonsense metaphors. Good luck figuring out what “My orange cola got black flamingoes crying for ya” (Cheetah Tongue) means. I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do is filled with made up metaphors and similes that smack of trying too hard.
On previous records, there have always been lines that have really stood out, some have even become favourite lines, but this record’s lyric content fails to stand up. Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy is still as cynical as ever though, and perhaps time will deliver us something as memorable as, “Better have said it but darling you’re the best, I’m just tired of falling up the Penrose steps,” from Greek Tragedy.
The thing that redeems this album is the instrumentation. The Wombats sound sophisticated, and it’s a great mix between A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation and their last album, a mix that will definitely please fans. Some tracks really let Tord Øverland Knudsen’s bass work shine, including on Out Of My Head, and the New Order-esque bassline on Ice Cream. Overall the instrumentation does seem to be a step towards a New Order style blend of rock and synth-dance music.
In fact, The Wombats seem to have attempted to take the best parts from previous albums and use them on this one. Lethal Combination is very similar to Walking Disasters from This Modern Glitch, Turn sounds like it would fit right in on Glitterbug, and the guitar solo on Out Of My Head, as well as the little injections of guitar in each track hark back to their debut.
While there are a few standouts, there are also some not so great tracks. I Only Wear Black sounds like it’s from a musical or would be used in an episode of Glee. It’s comical at best, and not in a good way. I always thought about how A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation could be a super cool musical with a rock soundtrack, but I never expected, or really wanted, the band to write a song that sounds like an actual show tune.
Let’s hope living in LA doesn’t change Murph’s accent, because that Liverpudlian one is such an important part of the band’s sound. While their previous effort really showed off Murph’s vocal chords, this album takes it a little bit further – the bridge of Out Of My Head has his voice sounding the most vulnerable we’ve ever heard it.
Overall there a few very catchy tracks on the album, especially Cheetah Tongue, which definitely has a great pop hook, that is something The Wombats have become quite good at creating, but overall it just seems to be missing those lines that stick out at you. Maybe the band should have taken that extra year.