Review: Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life

March 12, 2018

Lucette Moulang

Diving headfirst back into the indie rock charts, Liverpool band The Wombats have delivered a polished and likeable album, reminiscent of their earlier sound and interjected with a handful of high calibre tracks. Following synth-heavy 2015 album Glitterbug, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life harks back to The Wombats’ roots in hook-lyricism and the prominence of guitar riffs, while demonstrating a new maturity in their ability to merge elements of sound.

A definitive highlight is opening track and single Cheetah Tongue, with its percussion-heavy composition and strong bassline that drives the vocals, resulting in the kind of song you can’t resist playing air-guitar to in your bedroom. Encompassing the signature rambunctious sound we’ve come to love from The Wombats, Cheetah Tongue deserves the biggest nod for quality and catchiness.

As the members of the band have aged (all three are now fathers), we see a shift in the themes explored in each album, with the most recent delving into ideas of toxicity in relationships and a sense of isolation. This contrasts somewhat with the previous, more youthful tone of their songs – perhaps an indication as to why their overall sound is changing and becoming more settled.

Lead singer and guitarist Matthew Murphy explains that the band initially set out to great a more ‘organic’ sound with Beautiful People, stepping away from Glitterbug’s poppy tone and colourful sound palette. While this endeavour was mostly successful, it leads to several tracks falling short of the urgency I have come to expect from The Wombats. It seems that whatever makes this album successful is dependent on nostalgia for previous work, rather than fresh, innovative musicality.

Song writing and ear-pricking turns of phrase have always been The Wombats’ most attractive attributes, but these are only really demonstrated on tracks Cheetah Tongue, Lemon to a Knife Fight and Turn. One an album of eleven songs, this just isn’t enough for me to praise it as a favourite. These singles set a precedent that ultimately isn’t matched by the record, leaving me with an unquenched thirst for the sound I’ve come to love from this band.

While Beautiful People isn’t innovative in the sense we might have hoped for, its polished production and refined structure tout a high-quality record that fits snugly into The Wombats’ discography of 2000s British indie rock. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is by no means ground-breaking, yet it acts as a building block in a steady career spanning over a decade, with faithful fans who will no doubt remain optimistic of the band’s longevity on the global music scene.