The Wombats - Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (Bright Antenna Records)

Indie rock stalwarts return with pared down fourth installment

Released Feb 9th, 2018 via Bright Antenna Records / By Dave Reynolds
The Wombats - Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (Bright Antenna Records) The Wombats' fourth album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, is a marked departure not only from their previous album, Glitterbug, but also from their own brand of euphoric melancholy that made their name in the first place.

In a recent interview with The 405 podcast, frontman Matthew Murphy described how his band have come to create an album that's a little less of an audible assault on the senses than they have typically been known for in the past. 'It feels like we pushed the synth button too hard on Glitterbug ...and in the past for some songs and singles, we'd crank it to 358% and that can be a bit of an exhaustive listen. We wanted to do something more organic and natural'.

That stall was set out with lead single Lemon To A Knife Fight. The production is minimal, with the track driven by a simple acoustic guitar line during the verses, and not a synth in sight. Second single Turn can't resist a little sprinkling of keys buried in the mix, but it follows the same pattern of Lemon To A Knife Fight and the album as a whole of never really breaking the speed limit, whereas they previously had a habit of speeding on the autobahn while driving blindfolded.

Equally, the lyrical focus of the songs is a little more mature than the old days, such as in 2007 single Kill The Director where Murphy pointed out: 'Here's a song about another gender I'll never understand'. With Murphy now married, the opposite sex obviously holds a a little less mystique these days, but that makes them no less interesting a topic for him to focus on. On the aformentioned Turn, he 'likes the way your brain works' despite the fact 'You could give an aspirin the headache of its life'. On Lethal Combination, he's now found his partner in crime who, like him, is "too lost for therapy."

So while the typical Wombat themes of love, relationships and mental health are still as present as ever, the focus on a more 'natural' sound finds them channeling some different reference points musically. Dip You In Honey's guitar line channels Temples new-psychedelic rock, Ice Cream's intro is a little reminiscent of when Kings of Leon used to be good, and Out Of My Head is driven by a pretty swampy bassline. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life doesn't sound like a Wombats album, but on this evidence, that's certainly no bad thing.