Album review: The Wombats tell a story about how ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’

Posted on Feb 22 2018 - 7:57am by Hannah Reed

The Wombats released their fourth studio album, “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life,” earlier this month and from beginning to end, Matthew Murphy tells all about how his beloved did just that. The Wombats took on the indie, new wave scene in 2003 and incredibly are still able to recreate themselves again and again.

They start the album with, “Cheetah Tongue” and in classic Wombats fashion, the song creates an instant, toe-tapping beat. Throughout the song, Murphy makes animal references that make sense but also leave you questioning how the band came up with them.

“Lemon to A Knife Fight” creates a visual of a complicated, rough love story. Murphy sings of being “unhinged” and his lover, “undone.” It’s another great beat, and you can’t help but bounce around while listening. Murphy’s charming British accent is also very present in this song, thank God.

The band hits the nail on the head with “Turn,” which has roughly a million more Spotify listens than any other song on the album. It is easy to see why. The mood of the song is different from that of the first two. “Turn” is more of the “I love you, but you’re crazy” sound that seems to be sweeping the Top 50 and all major radio stations. People like songs that relate to their lives, so it seems we will all need to visit a relationship counselor soon.

The electric riffs at the beginnings of “Black Flamingo” and “White Eyes” create more of an alt-rock sound, completely changing the mood that was previously set. In the chorus of “Black Flamingo,” Murphy sings of longing to stay with his flame, but it “hurts, hurts, hurts,” and later begs for a “leg to stand on,” explaining the title. “White Eyes” is him reaching out to his love, telling her “you clean my heart” and “I need you the most,” completely disregarding how she “hurts, hurts, hurts” him. Therapy, people. It’s necessary at this point.

Wanting to be incredibly close, craving to become one person, is often the theme of alternative love songs. “Dip You in Honey” is a perfect example of the aesthetically pleasing sound in most alt-turned-popular music today.

The intro to “Lethal Combination” takes yet another turn – unanticipated but highly appreciated. It begins with a trippy ‘70s sound and leads into Murphy softly inviting his “baby” to “get blind tonight” and to get messed up and forget about everything around them. He even mentions that they are “too lost for therapy,” which is fitting. There is one line in the bridge: “If you remember this tomorrow then you’re doing it all wrong.”

The album changes course with “Out of My Head,” a more reflective song. Murphy speaks of wanting to come back to himself and how he is “off the deep end.” It also ties into the next song, “I Only Wear Black.” This track highlights his depression and self-awareness. It was not a favorite of mine at first, but after pressing play a few more times, the transition of the beat became interesting and flowed well. Although he warns of life-ruining in the album’s title, the retiteration of his unhappiness and his crazy lover is becoming a bit much by this point. Even in “Ice Cream,” Murphy tells about another aspect of his crazy love life, but then switches to another couple. He sings how enamored those people are. He paints an awesome visual with his lyrics and tone of voice.

The band finishes the album with “I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do,” and it was the right choice. The song seems to bring full circle all the elements of Murphy’s messed up relationship. He claims it makes no sense, but they both cannot help their attraction and obsession. The album shows an emotional rollercoaster of a relationship, and “I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do” echoes the relationship and its confusing ride.

The Wombats are typically pleasing to the ears, and this album is no exception. Murphy, always the storyteller, and Haggis and Knudsen with the catchy flow. Since the beginning, they have released song after song, each excellent in its own weird way.