Wild Beasts : Smother
It's fitting that Wild Beasts have been described as a musical entity that immortalises society's outcasts on a wondrous, mythical scale. Frontman Hayden Thorpe allows his intriguing lyrics to flirt with contradiction and complexity in the way that human emotions do, and delves into tender subjects to divulge the beauty in the ugly. The strikingly intimate, introspective and bleak terrain traversed is aligned with a fascinating insight and charmed wit. That such thought-provoking lyricism is delivered through Thorpe's glorious falsetto and the UK quartet's otherworldly and mystical art-rock/baroque-pop has rendered Wild Beasts one of the most sublime and unique bands making music today. Although the band's debut album - Limbo, Panto - received rapturous acclaim upon its release, their sophomore album, Two Dancers, transformed these critical darlings into a powerful alternative-pop force.
In creating their synth-oriented third album Smother, Wild Beasts derived much inspiration from Steve Reich, Fuck Buttons, Clarice Lispector and Mary Shelley. Opener Lion's Share is an overwhelming, suffocating beauty in which the listener is immediately engulfed by Thorpe's wrenching inquisition: "I find you hidden there a veiled creature of the deep, waifish as a widow and without sufficient sleep / Oh what am I supposed to think? Do I pull you out or do I let you sink?" From synth reverberations to beautiful rippling keys, Lion's Share finds transparency in humanity's flawed beauty.
The Gothic imagery and dramatic propensity defining the disturbingly infectious Bed Of Nails reassert Thorpe's recent literary interests while Tom Fleming takes up lead vocals on Deeper, whereby the influence of Reich is beautifully evident and indicative of Smother's divergent vision to their previous albums. When Fleming enunciates the plea of "Oh piece me together again / Deeper, deeper, you burn a hole in the world" in the latter, one can sense the impassioned pursuit of redemption that burns within these prophecies of vulnerability. Wild Beasts are undeniably brilliant, but only the most attentive of listeners will be rewarded with Smother's magical nuances.
Best Track: Lion's Share
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In A Word: Otherworldly