Earlier this month, Dublin-born musician CMAT released her debut album, If My Wife New I’d Be Dead, to much acclaim. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, have been biding my time. Waiting for this album. Wishing. Hoping. Praying that it would live up to the hype. The singer-songwriter has been dropping hit after hit every couple of months since she first appeared on the scene as a solo artist in early 2020 with her single ‘Another Day (KFC)’.
Of course, stringing a few bangers together doth not a good album make. There needs to be connective tissue. The songs that were previously unheard must work on their own, while also filling in the gaps between the already-released hits. Organs, bones, muscles all working together as one, in an audio fashion. But if you refer back to the album artwork, which features an homage to the music video for Robbie Williams’ ‘Rock DJ‘, skin is not required. And this album is skinless; honest, funny, and very raw.
There are pop culture references abound in CMAT’s lyrics, from Anna-Nicole Smith’s hair (voluminous) to Robbie Williams (divine) to director Peter Bogdanovich (gone, but not forgotten). ‘I Wanna be a Cowboy, Baby!’, the first track released ahead of the album, was birthed from a viral Vine (also gone, but not forgotten). The body of the album is veined, with these references, with self-deprecation, and with lines that are jarringly poignant, from head to toe.
The album’s opening track, ‘Nashville’, could bring to mind Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, but CMAT is singing about an imagined, imagined trip, rather than just an imagined one. She plans on telling her friends that she’s off on a pilgrimage to the home of country music, putting the singer somewhere between following her dreams and faking her own death. What’s scarier than failure? Only success. Because, as she puts it, “if I never get to Nashville, know it never let me down.”
In ‘Geography Teacher’, she sings “love was my religion, now I’m a passionate non-believer”. One would be quick to question her on this line. It wouldn’t be difficult to argue that, as in country music, it is heartbreak that is CMAT’s religion. Her country influences shine through on tracks like ‘I Don’t Really Care for You’ and ‘Groundhog Day’. The singer worships at the altar, not of the men who have let her down/she has let down, but how each let-down has made her feel. Every bottle is a different boyfriend, she’s lonely and she doesn’t want to fix it, and she’s ready and willing to give her ninth life away. And what strips skin from bone more effectively or efficiently than that?
Coming in at twelve songs and fifty-one minutes, this album is the perfect length to accidentally listen to three times in one sitting. It carries you along, and you’re laughing as you go—until you take notice of how much it hurts. If My Wife New I’d Be Dead flays you gently. I’m skinless now, too. Thanks, CMAT.