REVIEW: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ by The Wombats

The Wombats have certainly made some changes since their last album in 2015. Whilst the edgy album titles remain (this one being Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life), the rock trio from Liverpool certainly succeeded in making an album which doesn’t “[punch] you in the face every time you listen to it” – pursuing a much more laid-back sound this time around.

Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life sees The Wombat pursue a more laid-back sound, whilst maintaining the traditional and powerful kick from previous works. Photo: The Wombats.

Although, that is not to say that the band have completely ditched the rockier vibes heard on previous tracks like Moving to New York and Let’s Dance to Joy Division. They’re still present on the album – albeit in a slightly new and different (but interesting) way…

Take the opener, Cheetah Tongue, which slowly eases listeners into Beautiful People… with a gritty underlying guitar riff before dropping a loud, punchy drum beat. It’s stripped-back, yet still has that Wombats kick to it we’ve felt before.

That doesn’t stop with the following song, Lemon To A Knife Fight. As the lead single from the album, the group knew it had to offer a glimpse into what the ten-track record had in store. With anthemic vocals in the chorus on top of casual instrumentals, it perfectly balances the driving rock of the old with the chilled vibes of the new. It’s certainly the stand-out track from the album, so if you have to listen to one song from The Wombats, make it this one.

Then follows the third and final single from the album, Turn – a track with retreating guitar and drums that make it a song focussing more on Matthew Murphy’s vocals than an all-round dance hit. It strikes that perfect balance between full-on rock and a slower, phones-in-the-air type track – an interesting in-between.

Yet, it’s not just the singles where we see such a balance between slower and faster vibes. Over the course of the next seven tracks, we either see the punch come from pulsing drums and guitar (Black FlamingoDip You in Honey and Lethal Combination), or from Murph’s loud lyrics (Out of My Head). Such a switch between the two keeps each track fresh as we progress towards the end of the album.

With that being said, the change-up in style is apparent when one considers the tempo of the tracks. Far from the pace of A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, their latest release, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life plays with a more relaxed rhythm – some tracks hiding the change with colourful beats and melodies, others placing emphasis on it to create a calmer feel.

This leads us to the final track, I Don’t Know Why I Like You but I Do – a track which, for the most part, is in clear contrast to the first three. A simplistic drum beat (with the odd bit of flair here and there) and smooth guitar melodies slow things down for Murph, before a gritty guitar interlude refreshes the feel and makes it a perfect showcase of the two sides of the album.

A refreshing change of style is always a risky, tough and lengthy process for any band to deliver, but with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, The Wombats return to turn things down a notch, whilst maintaining the traditional groove fans know and love.

Rating: 4 stars

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Musical Discovery: ‘FRIENDS’ by Marshmello & Anne-Marie

It’s only three days until the love-fest that is Valentine’s Day, and rather than releasing the typical love song, Marshmello and his latest featured artist Anne-Marie wanted to go down the more anti-romance route with their single, FRIENDS.

Described in the title for the lyric video on YouTube as being the ‘official friendzone anthem’, Anne-Marie’s smooth vocals give the perfect sassy edge to this track for heartbreakers in a style where you can almost sense the smug grin on her face as she sings the lyrics in the recording booth.

Such a vibe isn’t only given off by Anne-Marie, as Marshmello dabbles in a bit of deception. A fluttering and catchy guitar melody creates an intimate, contrasting tone to that of Anne-Marie’s, right before dropping into a dirty trap beat. FRIENDS is a beautiful anti-climax – both instrumentally and vocally – which continues Marshmello’s mellow sound in a fresh, interesting and unexpected way.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘You Could Have Been The One’ by Coasts

It was only three months ago that Coasts were on the road celebrating the release of their second album, This Life Vol. 1. Now, in the middle of a European tour with rock band The Hunna, the five-piece band have offered up a brand new anthemic track in the form of the anthemic You Could Have Been the One.

Take Me Back Home, albeit with a fresh kick to it. It’s the band we know and love, yet with some interesting new vibes thrown in.

As well as this, when one considers the fact that Coasts announced the single on Facebook yesterday with the hashtag, #vol2, it’s likely that the next album from the band continues the euphoric sound of their previous record. With You Could Have Been The One having a bubbly synth tune at its core, what’s not to say that Volume Two expands upon the electronic melodies teased in Paradise and Make It Out Alive?

Ignoring the bizarre fading out of the song 30 minutes before the end of the track, You Could Have Been The One is a welcome return from the group, hinting at bigger things from the band in the months to come…

Musical Discovery: ‘Lost Boys’ by Ocean Park Standoff vs. Seeb

Hit remixers Seeb seem to have a knack for shining a spotlight on underrated musicians.

The Norwegian trio somewhat revived the career of Cooler Than Me singer Mike Posner with their version of I Took A Pill in Ibiza. Now, in their latest collaboration, they place some attention on Ocean Park Standoff as they present their twist on their track, Lost Boys.

With the original chorus having a slower beat and more atmospheric feel to it, it’s Seeb that give the track the traditional spring in its step through bouncy, off-beat synth mixing in-between a driving rhythm. Such a motif across the DJs’ portfolio may make listeners wonder what sets each song from their backlog apart. Yet, it’s always the melody which accompanies the jumpy vibe which makes every new Seeb remix exciting. In this case, three pronounced electronic notes is a small touch that makes this remix all the more catchy.

Not only that, but the initial chorus serves as an anthemic build-up to the trio’s euphoric drop – the progression to which is pretty much seamless. The track starts a tad clumsy with the opening chorus cut short, but it’s stripped-back introduction which is quickly emboldened by bolder drums in the bridge. There’s no denying that – at the start of each evrse – the track maintains the laid-back style and vocal emphasis of the original. Singer Ethan Thompson’s sound (which sounds very similar to Too Close artist Alex Clare) remains soulful and powerful throughout.

Packed with a strong, kicking tempo and a colourful interlude, Seeb’s remix of Lost Boys presents Ocean Park Standoff fans with a fast-paced club alternative to a track they know and love. It’s upbeat and vibrant, whilst not overshadowing the original version in the slightest. Just how remixes should be.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Dreamer’ by Axwell Λ Ingrosso (Jack Wins Remix)

If a song lacks a certain something – or kick – then it’s usually the remixes which can fill in the gaps and breathe new life into the track. The latest example is Jack Wins’ remix of Axwell Λ Ingrosso’s Dreamer – a version which adds a punch to the underwhelming drop of the original.

Photo: Axwell Λ Ingrosso.

It’s something proven right from the get-go. Out goes the piano melody at the start of the song, and in its place is a more immediate introduction to the first verse complete with a pronounced drum beat leading up to the chorus. At this point, Jack teases us with the various styles that all work with the original – from  harsh piano stabs, to a drum-and-bass like beat, before settling on a more deep house vibe in the inevitable drop.

As the track progresses, the driving rhythm from the previous verse gets a club revamp alongside heavy bass. Whilst the initial version offers little difference between verse and chorus and shows a lack of potential with its drop, Jack Wins’ maintains the emphasis placed on Trevor Guthrie’s vocals in addition to creating something exciting and diverse to listen to every second.

It’s a remix which shows Axwell Λ Ingrosso just what they’re missing from their original version, and as such, it makes Dreamer take on a whole new vibe as if it were his own.

The remix is available to listen now on Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Dreamer’ by Axwell Λ Ingrosso

Over five years since the DJ trio Swedish House Mafia announced their split, group members Axwell and Ingrosso have done a good job of filling the SHM-shaped hole in the world of EDM. This time, the pair return with a more reserved dance track in the form of Dreamer.

Whilst tracks like Something New and Dream Bigger have taken the more loud and bombastic route, their latest single – taken from their album More Than You Know – maintains the same anthemic vocals in a rather low-key fashion. In a sense, it’s a song which lacks the traditional punch of a busy dance hit. Whether that it is a good or bad thing in the context of Dreamer is up for debate.

Such an indication comes with the central drop of the track – something which is somewhat underwhelming when one considers the build-up beforehand. Layered with impassioned vocals centre-stage from Trevor Guthrie, a hint of the main melody and additional tones to back it up, it’s an assortment which suggests a hard-hitting hook…

The end result? A descent into a trap-like beat which, although an interesting change of style, feels disappointing until the listener plays the track several times and know what’s coming. The aforementioned elements remain, but it still feels like there’s something missing. It’s almost like the horn-like synths push the song forward, whilst the simplistic drum groove holds it back. Whilst the musical ‘tug-of-war’ may sound like an interesting concept to play with, it just leaves the listener in this weird state of limbo, unsure if this is one of those chill trap tracks or – at a stretch – an unconventional club hit.

The former is what I’ve come to accept Dreamer as being. It’s alluded to with the soft piano chords in the opening, and a slightly orchestral-style interlude in the middle of the song, but it’s not long before this atmosphere is lost to the chorus.

For me, it’s not the first song to fall victim to a delayed fondness. Initially, Something New, the soundtrack to a weekend with friends in February last year, caught my attention with its almost guitar-like melody, but something still felt underwhelming. It was only months later that whatever dissatisfaction I felt went away. On this occasion with Dreamer, the time it took for me to appreciate the change in style was shorter. Yet, in such a judgemental music climate, it shouldn’t have to be down to the third or fourth listen for it all to suddenly click – however replayable a song may be.

Despite feeling stripped back in areas, Dreamer is an interesting change Axwell Λ Ingrosso’s dance style, and in parts of the single where things may feel rather flat, that’s where the remixs – as always – can step in to inject new life into it.

Those should be interesting…

What ‘The Silent Child’s Oscar nomination means for the Deaf community | Liam O’Dell

It was a few days before the Oscar nominations were announced that I found out about The Silent Child. In a BBC News interview, six-year-old Maisie Sly talked about her hopes for a nomination for the movie, which also stars Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton.

Photo: Davidlohr Bueso/Flickr (changes have been made).

In a section of the film’s official website, the plot is described as centring around “a profoundly deaf four year old girl named Libby who is born into a middle class family and lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.” Whilst I am yet to see The Silent Child itself, simply put, the film seems to be about the beauty of British Sign Language (BSL) – and that’s a wonderful thing.

With Shenton, who has worked closely with the National Deaf Children’s Society in the past, as the film’s writer, there’s no denying that the passion is present in the script and Chris Overton’s direction. As The Silent Child centres around family life as a deaf person in addition to BSL, it certainly shines a light onto Deaf culture, the Deaf community and our language.

As such, this is why an Oscar nomination is so important to not only the filmmakers, but every member of the subculture which The Silent Child represents. Even a nomination has the power to prompt film fans to seek out the movie, which means more people seeing a story centring around an important subject.

It has the potential to inspire more people to break down the language barrier and BSL, or at least encourage viewers to find out more about life as a deaf person. At the very least, a viewer’s misconceptions are challenged. At best, they see the power of connecting over a language, and seek to learn even basic sign language in order to communicate with any deaf people they know.

On top of all this is the representation aspect. Slowly but surely, more deaf people and deaf-related stories are gaining prominence in the media. From Nyle DiMarco’s success and Switched from Birth in the US, to the great work See Hear and the BSL Scotland Act have led to in the UK, deaf issues are getting the attention they rightfully deserve.

Also, let’s not forget that Maisie is profoundly deaf herself – a detail incredibly important in a film and TV industry which seems to cast non-disabled people, neurotypical people or those without the specific condition in the role. Members of the deaf community have called for deaf actors in deaf roles, and this Oscar nomination serves as recognition that such an initiative really improves the accuracy and quality of a film. The Silent Child‘s success is a small but massively positive step for representation – both in terms of the actual story and the issues it explores, and casting decisions.

Now comes the big ceremony in March, and I wish The Silent Child every success.