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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 2/12/18

    The Wombats - Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (Kobalt)

    The Wombats have always been one of the hardest working bands around. Recently, they made things even harder for themselves by splitting geography-wise to L.A., Oslo and London, focusing on their families. Technology has saved them, making it simple to trade and share musical ideas across the Atlantic and North Sea. This culminated in a two-week recording session in Norway, which resulted in their fourth studio album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life.

    Carrying the torch of Brit-Pop has never seemed to be a burden for The Wombats. Their first three albums have been chock full of bouncy, cheeky dance floor sensations. But like their individual lives, things have settled down a bit for this one. While there are still sections of musical urgency and quick tempos, like on singles "Lemon to a Knife Fight" and the magically catchy "Turn," there is sort of a calming dream-wash coating the album. "Black Flamingo," for example, starts out very promising with an anthemic guitar that would spark a crowd to begin jumping, but it loses that drive, and simply glides along.

    Perhaps being separated while crafting this record has allowed them to explore new ideas. "White Eyes" features female backing vocals of "ooo-wha-ooo," harkening back to early 90's genre blending Brit-Pop (Stereo MC's). "Lethal Combination" starts out with a stripped down, intimate snap-a-along. "I Only Wear Black" is a peppy piano-centered Strokes-via-Morrissey blended tune, featuring excessively depressive lyrics like "Sometimes you win but generally, you lose." And "Dip You in Honey," finally gives props to fellow Liverpudlians The Beatles, while mixing in L.A.-inspired Beach Boys harmonies for the chorus.

    Everything aside, the album is not a disappointment. It simply feels like the next logical step in the evolution of the band. The anxious punches have gone, but the songs are still catchy, memorable and ready for festival stage sing-a-longs rather than smaller club dance floors. This should prove very helpful, since The Wombats are going on a festival-like tour in the States this summer, supporting many of the Weezer/Pixies double bill shows (though sadly not the Camden, NJ date).

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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