The Wombats‘ new album may be the most pleasant mental breakdown ever set to music. The Britpop band is known for changing up their sound with every new record, and Fix Yourself, Not The World continues that evolution. Longtime fans may be disappointed this record lacks the punch and harder rock elements of their earlier hits, “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” or “Moving to New York” as the band goes all-in on the brighter pop and synth sounds they’ve been experimenting with since 2015’s Glitterbug.
As the title suggests, The Wombats’ later work is focused on ideas of self-reflection, paranoia, and getting trapped inside your own head. It’s a fitting soundtrack to the COVID times we all sadly still live in, and the impact of anxiety and isolation. However, The Wombats took that depressing subject matter and flips it upside down, with danceable synths, drums, and their trademark tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
Most of the standout tracks were released last year as part of the appropriately named EP Everything I Love is Going to Die. Frontman Matthew Murphy’s smooth falsetto swells to an epic chorus on “Ready for the High.” The dark and slow build-up in “Method of the Madness” that leads to a final explosion of a chorus feels like letting out a cathartic scream.
It’s a refreshing departure from some of the out-of-touch, positive-vibes-only sound that fell flat on other indie records this year (Lorde’s Solar Power comes to mind…). Fix Yourself, Not The World finds the balance between the upbeat and the cynical. It’s about seeking those short-term moments of relief and joy, at least for the 3 minutes or so while a song is on.
One particularly memorable moment is the spoken interlude in the album’s penultimate track, “Worry.” It starts, “I’m pretty much worried about everything, really. I worry so much I worry maybe I’m gonna have some sort of pa-” and is cut off by a bouncing marimba and frontman Murph’s falsetto repeating “don’t worry” until you simply have to groove. It’s a choice that feels strongly reminiscent of the song “All Time Low” from Bo Burnham’s critically acclaimed musical special Inside, another COVID existential crisis with an extremely catchy soundtrack.
The motto of the album seems to be “Everything’s terrible, but at least we can dance to some catchy tunes and forget our troubles while the world burns.” It’s like a sonic version of the dog in that “This is Fine” meme. And that’s a mood that feels perfectly apt for the 2020s.
The Wombats are currently promoting Fix Yourself, Not the World on a world tour across the UK and the U.S.