by Sofia Noorouzi
If My Wife New I’d Be Dead is a masterful debut album from Irish musician Ciara Mary Alice Thompson, who goes by CMAT. In the new release, Thompson navigates bitter thoughts about anxiety, depression, and loneliness while singing along to upbeat country-pop tracks.
Thompson’s lyrics can be acrimonious at times. On “Peter Bogdanovich,” she fantasizes about extra-marital affairs: “I like you Peter, I wish you were a wife-leaver.” Throughout the album, Thompson’s witty songwriting works to convince listeners that she is a bad person. On “Groundhog Day,” she cites swearing and a crippling Diet Coke addiction as reasons to “give up on [her],” and asks, “What has two thumbs and is not going to be good anytime soon?” on the same track. Thompson speaks of a tendency to catastrophize emotions or situations and make herself the butt of the joke, which serves as a sort-of catharsis from her own misery. On “Lonely,” her vocal runs channel country powerhouses like Dolly Parton, who she references as a major inspiration. The song’s use of background vocals creates a humorous effect — as the artist wails, “I’m so lonely,” a lighthearted echo follows, “She’s so lonely.” Thompson may not claim to be the most morally-upstanding role model, but she certainly nails comic relief. “No More Virgos” and “Every Bottle (Is My Boyfriend)” is where Thompson’s zaniness really shines. Her ability to merge comedy with vibrant choruses shows off her unique talent.
Sometimes, the songs on If My Wife New I’d Be Dead feel like they drag on too long, particularly towards the end, which can weaken the emotional impact of Thompson’s genius lyrics. Excessive repetition can be hard to edit out, especially when the songwriting is so catchy that listeners find themselves struggling not to sing along. Tighter wrap-ups would elevate the overall work.
The artist compares herself to the likes of Mae West, Anna Karenina, and Lucy Liu throughout the album, demonstrating a universally felt attempt to understand oneself through various media depictions of women. Her writing has feminist undertones; she grapples with co-dependency issues on “I Don’t Really Care for You,” and longs for independence on “I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!” She struggles with beauty standards in candid revelations — “I break down every time I’m on the scale,” — and of course, through comedy: “I got a pain worth picking on with Skinny Tea ads.” And with every vulnerability she reveals, Thompson eventually derails her self-flagellating narrative to expose a humanized version of herself — one that listeners will find themselves relating to more and more as every track plays.