A philosophical turn in The Wombat’s “Fix Yourself, Not the World”

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The Wombats, an English indie rock band, released their fifth album in January. “Fix Yourself, Not the World” begins a philosophical shift in their music while maintaining the synth and pop sounds of their old albums.

Previously, their work focused on themes such as toxic relationships, hedonism and money. You may be familiar with “Greek Tragedy,” their most streamed song, which is focused on the theme of doomed romance. This new album takes an existential turn and focuses on the universe and letting go, themes which are perhaps overcoming the band members more now as they approach middle age. 

Some may recall their second album, “The Wombats Proudly Present: This Modern Glitch,” with the single “Jump into the Fog”. This song calls the listener to jump into moral fogginess, because “it’s clear we feel nothing.” Matthew Murphy, the lead singer, also sings that “life tastes sweeter when it’s wrapped in debauchery.” 

This same album holds the single “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves),” wherein Murphy, attempts to escape his demons by going to a bar, yelling “if you love me, let me go back to that bar in Tokyo.” Whether this commentary on escaping suffering through pleasure and numbing is being satirized or not, their ideas were clearly less sophisticated than they are currently.

According to the band in an Instagram post, the track “This Car Drives All by Itself” sets the tone for the new album. 

The song was based on a saying a band member heard: “We row, but the universe steers.” This isn’t a nihilist outcrying of man’s lack of control, but rather a call to let go of the illusion of control by means of surrender. 

The title song of the album, “Fix Yourself, Not the World,” stems from Carl Jung, a nineteenth century psychiatrist. When one fixes something within himself, he fixes it in society. Jordan Peterson, being steeped in Jung’s psychology, is most likely paying homage to this sentiment when he continually states, “Start by fixing yourself before you start to fix the world.” 

The track itself only has two lyrics paired with slow echoing guitar, as Murphy drolls, “I don’t want to lose myself in someone else’s game / I’m gonna stay right here in the Californian rain.” Perhaps, these lyrics elucidate the need to feel through one’s own rain, before going out into the world, in an attempt to fix it.  

Another standout song, sitting right in the middle of the album and surprisingly upbeat is “Everything I Love is Going to Die.” The band is sure to emphasize that it is actually a happy, liberating song, despite the macabre title. Murphy croons, “Sometimes I forget that everything I love is going to die.” This statement, acknowledging the finite nature of all worldly things, sets one free to be fully present in each moment, a primary aim of the album. 

In “Method to Madness,” their most uncharacteristically lo-fi song on the album, The Wombats continue their theme of detachment. When one cannot find the method to the madness and acknowledges the control is out of their hands, they can let go of life plans, sadness and neuroses. 

While this song ecoes some of the same lines found in “Jump Into the Fog,” such as the lyric, “drop your map, drop your plans, drop that five-step program,” it takes the lines in a different direction. Instead of telling the listener that nothing is off limits, because we live in a fog, “Method to the Madness” invites the listener to let go of things out of their control or understanding. 

This track recognizes human limitation, and again, relinquishes the need to make sense of chaos. It is a call to presence. In surrendering these existential crises and understanding how they transcend our abilities, we can leave the confines of the mind, and simply live. 

The Wombats continue to make danceable upbeat tunes, which recently have become more thoughtful. I highly recommend all of their albums; however, if you would like to feel slightly better about the type of music you are listening to this Lent, “Fix Yourself, Not the World” may be more suitable.

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