Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life
Kobalt Music Recordings
Liverpool threesome The Wombats have, since their debut album, 2007’s A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, championed both melodic British pop sensibility and whip-smart relationship-centred lyrics. Since that debut, their instrumentation has slid more and more overtly towards the 1980s, but they have been as proficient lyrically with each new release. Sadly, it would seem that maturity has not helped lead singer and songwriter Matthew Murphy maintain that proficiency, though musically, there is new ground being explored (or perhaps, re-explored).
Melodically, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is as catchy and hook-drenched as any of their previous releases, and in some cases, most notably “White Eyes,” “Dip You in Honey,” (though, is it me or does the main riff sound a lot like Oasis?) and album closer “I Don’t Know Why I Like You
But I Do,” more guitar-driven than ever before. Songs like lead single “Lemon to a Knife Fight” and album opener “Cheetah Tongue” are obvious examples of the band’s consistent and gradual musical evolution, both lyrically quirky and musically catchy but with a more mature approach to instrumentation and song structure.
For all that musical and melodical growth, lyrically this album seems like a step backwards. Gone are the clever combinations of metaphors and youthful desperation, replaced here by much more obvious (and boring) phrasing, and with all the quirky desperation of Murphy’s past failed (and idiosyncratic) relationships replaced by much less creative (“bog-standard,” as they’d say on that side of the pond) and more direct lovelorn complaining. Maturity breeds a different type of feeling, surely, but in this case it has also stagnated Murphy’s usually-brilliant comparative phrasing. Falsetto-filled “Black Flamingo” is the most unfortunate example of this, including the refrain “I want to love you but it hurts, hurts, hurts . . .” You’re better than that, Matthew.
Overall, this is a solid album musically with a lot of obvious growth and maturity, but minus much of the quirky lyrical urgency that has come to be a hallmark of the band. Still a very solid release, but not nearly as lyrically arresting or even laugh-out-loud as past offerings.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: THE WOMBATS – BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE