Rapid Review: The Wombats - ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’

Zanda Wilson 

The Backstory

Just over a decade on from the release of their debut album A Guide To Love, Loss and Depression, The Wombats return with their 4th album Beautiful People Ruin Your Life, and a notable departure from their past couple of records. This latest offering from the British indie rockers also marks something as a return to their early days, at least sonically, following the heavily produced and synth-driven This Modern Glitch (2011) and Glitterbug (2015).

When frontman Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy spoke to Cool Accidents in November last year, he made it clear that he considers BPRYL to be their “finest moment,” and spoke about a specific desire to make this new record “more organic” sounding. While the record is by no means as raw-sounding as their debut, the move back towards guitars as the dominant instruments is a significant one.

At A Glance

For those who’ve already come across the three singles released prior to the full record, the remainder of the album certainly won’t be a shock, but there are plenty of pleasant surprises and subtle explorations of various parts of their sound. Unlike previous albums, there’s few tracks that immediately strike as radio-ready bangers. Rather, it's a record that is full of classy musical subtleties that show a maturity that we’ve perhaps never seen from The Wombats before. Rather than create interest using huge drops or synth-dripping choruses, we instead see exploration of vocal harmony, and how texture and structure can change how the same group of instruments can present themselves sonically.

 

The Best Song

It’s hard to go past the previously released ‘Turn’ for best song, but there are plenty of new ones that compete for the title. The up-beat ‘Ice Cream’ is undoubtedly one of the most exciting tracks, while the piano-led ‘I Only Wear Black’ is a classic Wombats slow-burner.

Ultimately, it has to be the driving ‘White Eyes’ which features some gorgeous vocal layering of Murph’s unmistakable warblings. It’s also a perfect representation of the way the album as a whole really examines how removing and adding layers of bass, guitar, vocals, and drums can show how texture can be so vital.

The Worst Song

On an album with so many inventive arrangements, structure and textures, it only makes sense that the track with the most predictable arc could even be considered the “worst” song, and even then it’s a stretch to call ‘Dip You In Honey’ that. It’s certainly not a bad song, but with so many outstanding tracks surrounding it, it just stands out less. 

Overall

It would be fair to say that BPRYL is not an album that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to dance and bang your head like The Wombats previous two records, however it is simultaneously their most mature and classy record to date. There are plenty of references to the musical journey that resulted in the band arriving where they are now, and it would be hard to imagine them arriving at such a point in their career as a band without taking each and every step they’ve taken, and written every song that has come before. It’s a grower, not a shower, and it only takes a slightly closer look to see that Murph and co. have achieved exactly what they set out to.  

8/10