It's pretty much just Glitterbug again.
The Wombats have finally returned with the release of their fourth studio album – and their first since 2015 – Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Whilst the record is stereotypically characteristic of the band and clearly targeted at their usual fan-base, the album as a whole is pretty much a clone of the indie rock icons’ previous album, Glitterbug. Essentially they’ve played it safe, and it has left a lot to be desired.
Opening with latest single, ‘Cheetah Tongue’, the Liverpool-based trio instantly burst into a fast-paced indie anthem that reminds us of all the reasons that make this band so universally adored. This is followed up by the other two of the album’s singles ‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’ and ‘Turn’, but in all honesty by the time you’re through these three songs you’ve already passed Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’s highpoints. All three singles are everything you would want, brimming with eccentricity and vivaciousness, but by this point, The Wombats have already shown you their hand too early. The foot is very soon taken off the gas, with the vast remainder of the album seeming like a homogenised cluster of bang-average indie tunes.
Hopeless romantic lead singer Matthew Murphy is back at it again, with tales of heartbreak and yearning. It seems like he hasn’t danced to Joy Division quite enough because he definitely hasn’t found a cure for his broken heart yet. The low point of the album is definitely the almost comically forlorn ‘I Only Wear Black’, and is a strong contradiction to the band’s often colourful image, in both musicianship and aesthetics. The album’s finale ‘I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do’ is pretty much as close to a ballad that the band has got to in their career, and much like the bonus track ‘Flowerball’ on Glitterbug, provides a rather indifferent and disappointing ending.
Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is indie dance-pop at its most simplistic, but in reality that’s what makes the band so successful: their clean-cut rhythms, perky beats and melodious guitar, not by any means ground-breaking but a sure-fire crowd pleaser. Effectively drenched in quirky expressions, and for the most part, adhering to The Wombats’ trademark sad lyrics and happy melodies combination, the eleven songs are quintessential of the band, but circumspect nonetheless.
Rehashed themes and predictability aside, the album is still jam-packed with guitar-driven tunes that will effortlessly glide into any of The Wombats future setlists, sure to be warmly received and belted right back at them as Murphy and co. light up any venue they play. That being said, the album is more of an extension of 2015’s Glitterbug than any real example of elevation or progression, but it’s what you would expect from the band, and it is most likely what most fans would want.
Ultimately you’ve got to ask yourself the question: would you rather they played it safe and did what comes naturally to them, or ask them to mix it up a bit with the possibility of dire consequences? I, for one, am pretty satisfied that they went for the former.
Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is released on February 9th via 14th Floor Records