Album Review: The Wombats – Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life

Bertie Mackenzie shares his mixed views on the latest release from Liverpool rockers The Wombats

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There are some bands that hold a truly nostalgic grip on my heart, at present I can’t think of any bands that bring back so many memories as The Wombats. Every time I listen to A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation I’m immediately returned into my friend’s basement, where we’d spend many nights and early mornings drinking and singing, and I can’t listen to Techno Fan without wanting to return to the dusty field in Germany where I first saw them play. The Wombats have always been significant to me, so when they announced a new album I was more than a little excited. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life proved and interesting listen, and I’m honestly still not sure exactly how I feel about it.

The first three tracks are perhaps the most classically Wombat-esque; they are also the three singles released in the run up to the launch. It’s certainly a roaring start to the album, all three tracks are overflowing with surreal energy and the sort of odd self-aware lyrics you’d expect of The Wombats. ‘Turn’ especially offers everything you’d want from a Wombat’s song, its off the wall and fun, and offers a slightly different sound when compared with previous albums. At first I was very disappointed listening to both ‘Cheetah Tongue’ and ‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’, however, both songs have subsequently got stuck in my head, and after repeated listens I grew to enjoy them. I feel the reason they each took time to appreciate was because I was initial disappointed at the safety of each of them. Both are almost too generic in the grand scheme of The Wombats’ music; however, they are undeniably fun and catchy so it’s hard to hold it against them for too long.

the sort of odd self-aware lyrics you’d expect of The Wombats

The album offers its best work in the middle with the songs ‘White Eyes’, ‘Out Of My Head’, ‘Lethal Combination’ and ‘I Only Wear Black’ all bringing something new and interesting to the table. ‘White Eyes’ starts out with striped back rocky guitar and vocals, before descending into classic Wombats style pop rock with enough of a twist it doesn’t feel like retrodden ground. ‘Out Of My Head’ offers a flowing, bluesy and funky bass part accompanying a calm pop song which works surprisingly well. ‘Lethal Combination’ is perhaps the strongest moment of the album, it starts as a subtle, depressing, and restrained love song and builds into a smooth and poppy chorus. The album dips slightly before its conclusion again becoming victim of playing it a little too close to previous efforts. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life does resurge with a good closing number in the form of ‘I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do’, which offers a fitting ending to the album. It provides the driving almost blues inspired bass lines that are ever present in the album, and wonderfully off the wall lyrics. Beyond the album containing a few really good songs, it functions well as an album with a strong lyrical and emotional through line, connecting the songs into one work.

All in all, there is enough new here that it doesn’t feel too safe, though it’s certainly not an experimental album and at points it does feel a little regurgitated from previous works. However, it is clear that there is a passion in the music and it’s undeniable that The Wombats have crafted a few more brilliant songs to add to their catalogue. It is also worth noting that with every listen I like it a little more; I’ve gone from unimpressed to sceptical and now I feel like I actually really like the album, and know that I will only like it more with every passing day. I would say if you like The Wombats’ previous albums give this one time because I assure you it will eventually get under your skin and stuck in your head.

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