Love Fame Tragedy — Wherever I Go, I Want To Leave (7/10/20)

At 17 songs and 50 minutes, this album from The Wombats’ frontman Matthew Murphy seems like a pretty big undertaking. For anyone who’s been following the UK singer’s side project though, you’ve already heard over half of these.

Murphy released an EP with four of these songs all the way back in September of last year and then another EP with five more songs in March. With the full-length, he’s included all nine of those songs along with eight new ones. And if you liked what you heard on the EPs, you’ll like what else he has to offer.

The album starts with a new addition in “5150.” 5150 is the California law code applied to people who are considered threateningly unstable. The song moves at a relatively slow pace but holds one of the strongest and most heart-wrenching melodies.

The following “My Cheating Heart” is Murphy’s debut solo single and was originally released all the way back in June of 2019. It features vocals from a young artist by the name of Maddi Jean Waterhouse. Murphy made the move from Liverpool to L.A. in recent years and the song touches on his mindset in making the big transition.

“Pills” closed off the first EP back in the fall and comes in at number three on the full-length. I was putting together my Top 100 of 2019 around the same time that I was getting into the first EP. I didn’t really consider any of the songs for the Top 100 but, over time, “Pills” has managed to grow on me a lot.

It’s got a great thumping beat to it with a hook that will lodge into your head, but it’s the infectious verses that take it to the next level. He provides probably my favourite line of the album in the second verse with, “I do this every time/Jenny was a friend of mine,” which of course is in reference to The Killers first-album opener “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine.”

After “Pills” you get three straight from the second EP in “Body Parts,” “Multiply,” and “Hardcore.”

“Body Parts” includes some of the album’s coolest guitar licks and acts as a twisted take on a love song. Murphy sings in the hook, “I don’t want your money/I don’t want your bullshit charm/I want your body parts/Until our bodies part.”

“Multiply” has a more glitchy electronic production to it, sounding similar to a band like Glass Animals or even Phantogram. It features Australian artist Jack River (Holly Rankin) and continues the album’s momentum with another easy and upbeat melody.

It is “Hardcore” that gripped me the most from the first batch of nine songs. It creates a musical mood that I don’t feel with anything else on this album. The guitar tends to pull this song along. It switches from a slow and easy riff in the verse to this playful and intricate pattern for the album’s strongest hook. I’m a “drop” guy and this song absolutely supplies that drop-in hook that keeps me coming back.

We then get a couple of new additions with “Everything Affects Me Now” and “You Take the Fun out of Everything.”

I found myself grabbing onto both of them rather instantly. Murphy knows how to make a catchy song and these are two straight forward under-3-minute pop jams. The latter rides on this almost EDM piano beat for an exciting hook. The song’s further propelled with a kind of gritty and intense pre/post-chorus that I find very effective.

“Please Don’t Murder Me (Part 2)” comes in at the perfect spot as song number nine, splitting the album’s first eight and last eight songs. The slow-burner originally off the second EP is under 90 seconds and acts as an interlude in my eyes. Apparently, there’s a song by The Grateful Dead by the same name and that’s why Murphy added the “Part 2” to the title.

The second single from the first EP, “Backflip” starts off Side B. I don’t have much to say about it. It’s another easy-to-enjoy track with some gentle backing female vocals (featured on at least a few of these). Despite being the second song Murphy chose to put out there from this solo project, it comes off rather generic to me.

We get the final five new songs in the next stretch.

“Sharks” leads it off. According to a recent mini-documentary Murphy released, this was one of the first songs he wrote for the solo project. He says it was considered for the band’s last album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. Acoustic guitar drives the hook for a wonderful and uplifting summer melody.

“B-Team” has a chill rock vibe to it and I admire the cute chorus with some added EDM flourishes. “Pink Mist” is similarly effective. Murphy says he was inspired by the hit “Genghis Khan” from Miike Snow with the offbeat bright piano. This song most definitely doesn’t have the same punch but I can see the similarities.

He’s called “Honeypie” his favourite song of the album. It’s the fullest song and the only one to pass the 4-minute mark. There’s a thick synth texture and it’s definitely one of the most chilling moods of the album. “The Sea Is Deep and the World Is Wide” follows. The instrumental guitar track was written while Murphy was playing the ukulele for his baby daughter. It’s under a minute and, with only two songs left on the album, it seems like he’s just squeezing it in.

“Riding A Wave” is the penultimate track. It comes from the second EP and is easily one of the most infectious of the album. You gotta be able to handle the repetitive hook though or this one could become annoying fast.

And finally, we reach the closing song with “Brand New Brain.” From the first EP, it works as a conclusion to the album with a sombre tone that gradually builds into something quite positive and motivating. It’s definitely a big slow down especially following “Riding A Wave,” but it’s final minute bursts with an emotional strength that’s not quite felt on the rest of the album.

I rarely do a track-by-track review like this but I decided to just put it all out there with this one. In summary, it’s not all the most innovative alt-pop ever but Matthew Murphy has proven time and time again how to construct a great song. Now it’s time to look forward to the next Wombats album!



Music Nerd.

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