The Wombats Warn That 'Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life'

The Wombats, a UK pop-rock band seemingly obsessed with parties and pills, don't seem the sort ready for a solemn break-up record, but Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is just that, kind of.

Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life
The Wombats

Bright Antenna

9 Feb 2018

Just last week, Anna Burch's excellent Quit the Curse was released, and I described it as a healthy break-up record with loads of logical self-care. As it is, the break-up record is a cultural touchstone. Any group or musician with a long enough history will eventually release something of the sort. I could make a list here, but it would be a heavy book with graphs and charts and fold-out posters of Bob Dylan. The Wombats, a UK pop-rock band seemingly obsessed with parties and pills, don't really shine as the sort ready for their solemn break-up record, but Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is just that: a slimy yet serious take on the break-up record with one integral change: there's never actually a break-up. Furthermore, unlike Burch's Quit The Curse it's completely unhealthy.

It's all push and pull. The opening track, "Cheetah Tongue" includes the words, "Don't shut your eyes until we fade to black 'cause maybe this time the good stuff could last," and that seems to be the thesis as little changes thematically throughout the rest of the record. It's line after line of love with a tinge of hatred. On "White Eyes", singer Matthew Murphy sings, "You clean my heart you do, but still, it twists like a Rubix cube." Later, "Lethal Combination" is a sugary song about a toxic relationship that includes the should-be-a-cliché, "Every silver lining has a cloud." The album even closes on a song titled, "I Don't Know Why I Like You But I Do". The band is hitting you over the head with their message here, but it's fine because the vehicle is superb.

And that 'vehicle' is the tunes. They're excellent workouts in powerful pop-rock. In the past, the band played around a bit, incorporating barbershop melodies, disco bass, and nearly-techno beats. On Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life though, Wombats keep their feet in classic rock water. More specifically, the album is heavily indebted to Strokes-like guitar and psych-tinged riffage.

"Dip You in Honey" has the crunch and the riff to be included in the Nuggets compilation while "White Eyes" is the same thing with a pop chorus. As mentioned, Strokes-ian guitar abounds here. "Lemon to a Knife Fight" pushes a riff to the front that could be mixed right into Room on Fire while "I Only Wear Black" plays those down-stroke chords like a fired up Albert Hammomd Jr. in 2002. This is not a diss on the Wombats. The tunes are crunchy and melody-laden to nearly sugar-coma inducing levels, and it's what we want from bands like Weezer, the Strokes, and the Wombats as well.

In the end, you come out feeling a little strange. It's a sad album really, but it's played so triumphantly. You have to wonder what Murphy is feeling here. I guess having a rock band can have its perks. It's an outlet for the writer and the performer. Luckily for the listener, we get to siphon off some of this catharsis as well. Many of us have dealt with heartache, but it's never been this pleasant before.





The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.


90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

‘The Avengers’ Offer a Lesson for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.