The Wombats Say Goodbye to the Party Life on ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’
Liverpool’s indie favorites The Wombats are back with a new album, their fourth. The wordily titled “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life” perhaps speaks to the overarching theme of lead singer Matthew Murphy leaving behind the glitzy party life in L.A. for good. Now that he and his bandmates are settling into adulthood, their records are unveiling new, more precocious sides of themselves.
Murphy wanted to craft something decidedly more measured this time around. Rather than something that “punch(es) you in the face every time you listen to it.” The lead single “Lemon to a Knife Fight” provides a nice Death Cab for Cutie-esque indie bounce, letting fans know straight away their intentions with the album. Murphy’s lyrics flow agreeably throughout as an acoustic guitar leads the way for electric guitar solos and a driving drum beat. Previous Wombats’ albums seemed to eschew traditional rock standards by focusing on either a punk aesthetic or electronics but this time around things feel more rationalized and sleek. Another single, “Cheetah Tongue,” uses snaps to keep the beat during Murphy’s dynamic guitar playing before the beat drops taking the song to an efficient climax. Other songs like “Ice Cream” and “Dip You in Honey” fall into this category of skillfully produced indie rock as well. Contrary to Murphy, drummer Tom Haggis and bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen contributing to this record from L.A., London and Oslo, respectively, “Beautiful People” remains cohesive. Perhaps the rigorous two-week meet ups where the guys jumped in the studio to work through their material helped solidify the sound. Murphy described the sessions as being caffeine-fueled with perhaps some cabin fever symptoms as well. They certainly took the process seriously, and within the music it shows.
Similarly, the themes of the album are of growing up, but not quite yet growing old. Since Murphy moved to L.A. full time, he’s settled down by way of marriage and said goodbye, for the most part, to his partying ways. “Beautiful People,” he said, is about his transition into “Trying to live an adult life. And failing.” On the synth-heavy “Turn” he waves goodbye to the rock star lifestyle, but not before reliving some of the best moments in his head such as “Screaming at the moon in black lipstick.” This, before lamenting “Maybe it’s the crazy that I’d miss.” “White Eyes” too goes to the days of cloudy-minded high-times as Murphy reminisces about being stuck at a hotel, stumbling through the darkness before someone turns the sprinklers on leading him to believe he’s in a waterpark. “Baby, let’s go and get blind tonight/I’ll hold your hair back and you’ll hold mine,” he sings on “Lethal Combination” before reminding his counterpart that “If you remember this tomorrow then you’re doing it wrong.”
So now that the days of unabashed revelry are supposedly behind Murphy and Co., it’s safe to expect more inward thinking, more existential thoughts and more music focused on the why rather than the how. “Beautiful People” is certainly a big step in that direction with not only their maturing lyrical themes, but their ripening musicality as well.
“Beautiful People Will Run Your Life” is available Feb. 9 on Apple Music.