“That became the main inspiration for most of the songs, this false world that I’d created for myself,” he explains. “As time progressed, I’d go to L.A. more and more, and the idea kept on building. The album’s about the envy and the struggle and the pretence and the worry and the fear that L.A. – and every major city in the world – encompasses.”
Approximately halfway through the writing process, events conspired to curve full-circle from fiction into fact when Murph started dating a seemingly unattainable woman from the city. And so imaginary stories evolved into real life concerns: the fading embers of his relationship back in London and the challenges of maintaining a long distance relationship. Instrumentally, most of the songs took one of two directions: back in Liverpool, bassist Tord and drummer Dan’s rush of creativity would result in them delivering backing tracks as a foundation for Murph to then build upon in L.A. or London; alternatively Murph would develop the essence of a song on guitar or piano for the band to collectively flesh out. Despite the initial geographic displacement of the trio, subsequent sessions at Mark Crew’s London studio demonstrated that The Wombats’ inter-band dynamics are as strong as ever before.
‘Greek Tragedy’ floats an East Asian-infused synth riff over booming, distorted drum beats, while another immediate stand-out, the uplifting ‘Give Me A Try’ (inspired by Murph’s blossoming new relationship) represents the band’s most positive lyric to date. Other highlights include the elastic bass and pulsating disco rhythm that permeates throughout ‘Be Your Shadow’; the almost unrecognisably different ‘Emoticons’; and ‘This is Not A Party’ which addresses Murph’s swing from celebratory hedonism to a borderline existential crisis over the course of some “fairly sizeable” nights out in the summer of 2013.