Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life
February 9, 2018
Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life by The Wombats is an eleven-track album that brought back their classic rock sound from the mid 2000’s. Hailing from Liverpool, The Wombats made it big in 2007 with ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division,’ which explored the cross between upbeat, high energy music with dark themes of loss, depression, and addiction. The Wombats’ sound is characterized by Matthew “Murph” Murphy (lead vocalist, guitarist, songwriter) witty and deceiving lyrics and songs that make you want to dance and cry at the same time.
Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is an incredible instrumental breakthrough for The Wombats. Most of the songs allowed Tord Knudsen (bass) and Dan Haggis (drums) to explore their own rock sound, even though some songs outside of their previously released singles lacked lyrical strength and fell into a pop formula.
The first single that was released in November 2017, ‘Lemon to a Knife Fight’ possessed the same lyrical artistry that Murph has delivered in past albums. The track begins with a lone acoustic guitar riff before Dan Haggis comes in with a bass drum that says, “The Wombats are back.” The song is cinematic and visual, dragging the listener into a highspeed chase. It’s a song of defeat and hopelessness, which is described in the lyrics: “I push and you tend to shove / I give in and you don’t give up / I’m not getting out of here this time / I brought a lemon to a knife fight.” The theme of “losing” in love was repeated in the other released singles, ‘Cheetah Tongue’ and ‘Turn.’
These three singles ended up being the first three tracks on the LP, which gave the album an initial poppy and upbeat vibe. This pop-rock sound continued in their fourth track, ‘Black Flamingo,’ but the lyrics fell short. Unlike others of The Wombats’ songs, this track doesn’t catch your attention within the first 10 seconds and fails to do so in the chorus: “I wanna love you but it hurts, hurts, hurts / I wanna stay here but the time slips away from me / I wanna stay here in this curse, curse, curse / Black flamingo, black flamingo.” Falling into formulaic pop lyrics, the track didn’t compete with the previous singles that were signature Wombats bangers.
‘Lethal Combination’ takes the album in another direction, literally splitting the LP in half. Straying away from peppy guitar riffs and dark melodies, this track is a parody, which is something you don’t hear from The Wombats very often. The track starts with a combination of guitars and synth sounds, while the bass drives the song with psychedelic influences. Even though this song is about being black-out drunk, it’s rather quirky and is filled with lighter lyrics.
The second half of the album begins with ‘Out of My Head,’ a groovy track that showcases Murph’s vocal abilities, a solid guitar solo, and a bass line that really drives the song. The next song, ‘I Only Wear Black,’ was also filled with unsophisticated lyrics that don’t have a meaningful message, especially when compared to ‘Out of My Head.’ ‘Dip You in Honey’ opens with a guitar riff that sounds like The Beatles’ ‘Ticket To Ride,’ which was a beautiful tribute from one Liverpool band to another.
Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life ends with ‘I Don’t Know Why I Like You but I Do,’ a track that ends the album on a high note and makes up for the mediocrity of the lyrics in the middle tracks. Taking a step away from the complicated and sometimes incoherent metaphors about love, this final track is very personal and naïve. ‘I Don’t Know Why I Like You but I Do’ alone shows the maturity of the band members and cuts the fluff of all the flamboyant definitions they have used to describe what love is. The track puts the band on a personal level with their listeners and illustrates what seems to be the peak of their success as a group.
This album was filled with lyrical disappointments and surprises in themes, but its differences from The Wombats’ previously released singles showed an evolution in their sound and maturity, even if it may have disappointed fans. I highly recommend this album to any alternative-rock listener, but I suggest starting with The Wombats’ previous albums if you’ve never listened to them before.