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The Wombats - Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (Album Review)

Friday, 16 February 2018 Written by Liam Turner

Photo: Tom Oxley

The Wombats clearly aren’t concerned with being the world’s most prolific band. Since their inception in 2003, they’ve released only four full-length records, clocking in at an average of about one every three-and-a-half years. Their latest is ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’, and it offers up an explanation for why Wombats albums are as scarce as their marsupial namesakes.

It suggests that the Wombats are short on ideas. Its lead single, Lemon To A Knife Fight, hinted at that prior to the album’s release, with a choppy four-chord rhythm underpinning snappy lead guitar and Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy’s idiosyncratic lyrics. On either of the band’s first two records it would’ve fitted in nicely. Here, though, it sounds like they’re on cruise control.

What’s more worrisome is that the three-piece don’t seem sure where they’re going. They’ve done the straightforward indie-pop thing (‘A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation’), they’ve gone all-in with the synth thing (‘Glitterbug’). 

But, like their sophomore effort ‘This Modern Glitch’, ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ is somewhere between the two musical camps. Yet, where ‘Glitterbug’ felt like something of a progression, this latest LP is a bit of a step back.

It doesn’t help that when the band try to stray from their comfort zone, it often comes across as a blatant ripoff of some of indie’s more seminal acts. I Only Wear Black, with its downstroked, high-up-the-neck chords and jocund pacing, shamelessly apes an early Strokes ditty. Ice Cream, with its heavy, fuzzy riffs, brazenly imitates ‘AM’-era Arctic Monkeys. It’s also difficult to ignore just how much Dip You In Honey borrows from mid-’60s Beatles.

But at least Murphy still knows how to paint a picture (arguably one that’s more Dali than Da Vinci). “Listening to Drake at your best friend’s swimming pool, floating anti-clockwise in a red mushroom,” he sings above a sonorous synth-bass backdrop on love song Turn.“I’ll let you chew the red parts, and eat my mind like a cake,” he declares on White Eyes, another apparent ode to love or lust.

It’s not like Murphy’s stimulating imagery is needed to cover up some unspeakable blemish, though, as the 11 tracks on offer here - derivative though they may sometimes seem - are quite listenable. They’re just not especially fresh or exciting. Considering the Wombats like to take their time between records, it’s not unreasonable to have expected something more.

The Wombats Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri March 09 2018 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Sat March 10 2018 - COVENTRY Empire, Coventry
Sun March 11 2018 - MANCHESTER Academy
Tue March 13 2018 - BELFAST Limelight
Wed March 14 2018 - DUBLIN Academy
Fri March 16 2018 - CARDIFF Cardiff University Students Union
Sat March 17 2018 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Mon March 19 2018 - ABERDEEN Beach Ballroom
Tue March 20 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Wed March 21 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Fri March 23 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sat March 24 2018 - MANCHESTER Academy
Sun March 25 2018 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Tue March 27 2018 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Wed March 28 2018 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Thu March 29 2018 - SOUTHAMPTON O2 Guildhall Southampton

Click here to compare & buy The Wombats Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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