The Wombats have had a busy year.
The British indie pop band released its fifth studio album Fix Yourself, Not the World this past January. The album elicited tremendous success, quickly ascending to the number one spot in the UK Albums Chart. A mere nine months later, on Nov. 18, The Wombats released their sixth project— an EP containing six songs shaped by rock influences and despair.
The title Is This What It Feels Like to Feel Like This? accurately encapsulates the storm of self-doubt that recurs throughout The Wombats’ newest work. Upbeat yet grim, the EP grants listeners access to lead singer and song-writer Matthew Murphy’s innermost thoughts and feelings.
Instrumentals blare in “I Think My Mind Has Made Its Mind Up,” a guitar-heavy track exploring an absence of agency. The song portrays the human mind as an autonomous entity with its own consciousness. Murphy therefore distances himself from his own decisions, indicating that he fails to exert control over his own actions. Despite the lyricism revolving around Murphy’s inability to confidently navigate his own life, his voice remains strong and steady throughout the track. This juxtaposition emphasizes the disconnect that can occur between one’s rationale and one’s behavior.
Internal conflict also appears on the EP’s most subdued track, “Demon.” Murphy personifies his destructive tendencies as a demon that resides within him. He acknowledges the pain that the demon causes others, but he struggles to envision a lively existence without it. He confesses, “Let me sink into your burning eyes / It’s so hard to lose a missing piece / I don’t wanna live a quiet life.” The song displays a special level of transparency; Murphy admits his internal darkness steers him in dangerous directions, but he fears he is bland without his flaws. The song offers a more unique perspective on the haunting facets of one’s identity— it is terrifying to live with them, but equally as daunting to live without.
The band also incorporates a subtle nod to 2015’s sleeper hit “Greek Tragedy,” whose opening lyrics include “You’re running late with half your makeup on.” Closer “Good Idea at the Time” similarly commences with “Get some of that make up on.” The two songs also share the same focus: relationships with dismal, fated endings. By referring to one of its older songs, the band demonstrates how its growth has not disrupted the core of its work. The Wombats may shift and expand, but they will refrain from completely abandoning the concepts and tunes in their previous discography. “Good Idea at the Time” serves as a sweet ode to a song that further popularized the band.
Is This What It Feels Like to Feel Like This? thrives as a thematically cohesive yet sonically diverse collection of songs. “Dressed to Kill” and title track “Is This What It Feels Like to Feel Like This” contain the same raw, melodramatic charm prevalent in The Wombats’ earlier work. “Demon” takes on acoustic vulnerability, while “Same Old Damage” showcases Murphy’s sensual falsetto. Some tracks immediately thrash, while others slowly bloom.
The band masterfully saturates each song with gloom without reducing the EP to one monolithic, dreary sound. Is This What It Feels Like to Feel Like This? possesses several multi-dimensional bops. The Wombats have demonstrated this skill throughout their other albums as well, but here they have fine tuned it; their lyricism has grown in its thoughtfulness and honesty without sacrificing their characteristic liveliness.
The multiplicity within The Wombats’ music enables it to be enjoyed by many— its combination of cheery beets and sorrowful lyricism makes it the perfect music to accompany both dancing and crying.