It’s always good to see a band come back fighting. Wild Beasts were pipped to the Mercury Award Music Prize from The xx less than a year ago, but no matter they’re back with another album that once again provides promise, beauty, poignancy yet with enough modesty to leave us coming back for more and shows why we fell in love with them in the first place.
Wild Beasts have never been one to hide away from living up to their name, at least lyrically speaking anyway. All of their work has showcased themes of sex, lust and desire. Difference is this time around they relish singing about the idea that sex can be bad. There are no romantic ideals from Thorpe this time, that is to say all emotional ties go flying out the window. Yet later on in the album we do see Fleming, on the track “Invisible” contrast these thoughts with small specks of the fact that relationships based on sexual intent, be it bad or otherwise, can sometimes come back to haunt us unless both people are on the same page (emotionally at least) “you have walked through my dreams, I want you to see this”. As well as on “Deeper” where he laments “The breakfast is all laid out/ Waiting for you to arrive”. His quivering vocal suggests he missing something, or someone once lost and this is a perfect way to really convey that sense of absence.
Thorpe’s prowl on “Lion’s Share” is reminiscent of Kate Bush’s draggy vocals. We feel the vulnerability here as showcased by uneasy piano coupled with Thorpe’s predatory lyrics “I take you in the mouth, like a lion takes it’s game”.
“Bed of Nails” is another personal favourite. The opening drum pattern as well as when Thorpe’s falsetto kicks in easily suggests a Hercules & Love Affair comparison. It’s here where Shelley’s Frankenstein influences really come to light “When our bodies become electrified/It’s alive, it’s alive, its ali-e-i-e-i-e-i-i-i-ive” layered on top of swooning guitar; it makes for a beautiful track.
“Smother” is ,without doubt, very deserving of every plaudit and praise that comes their way. They have taken observations of the landscapes of lovers, delving deep into the detachment of unabashed wanton desire. If ‘(500 Days) Of Summer’ and ‘Blue Valentine’ took the love story and turned it on his head, then ‘Smother’ has looked at the love song from a different angle. As much as it leaves you cold with their blunt observations, this album is also an invitation to listen to the beauty of exactly what happens “post-break up sex”.
Click here to stream the album and listen to it in its entirety, on The Guardian’s music website