When Kendal four-piece Wild Beasts released their debut album “Limbo, Panto” a couple of years ago they were hailed as the weirdos of indie music, somehow managing to make the strange into the normal. Last year they released their second album, “Two Dancers”, and it’s a triumph.
Every strange bone that they had in their bodies from “Limbo, Panto” has been distilled into a very lean, very beautiful and beguiling 37 minutes. The most instantly recognisable aspect of Wild Beasts is frontman Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto vocals, where he sometimes screams the lyrics, as he does in “All The King’s Men”, and sometimes tames it into something a lot more restrained and searing with sensuality like in “We Still Got the Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues”. No matter how he controls his voice, it still screams “look at me!” as there’s no-one quite like him out there. How many other people would yelp and cry and fawn like Hayden? And if there is, are they as likeable and strangely accessible as our Lake District hero? Probably not. It’s this combined with bassist Tom Fleming’s rich, silky-smooth northern (but not awful Futureheads northern) tones that form the backbone of Wild Beasts’ well-judged operation. Going back to stand-out track “All The King’s Men”, Fleming sings abut courtship ritual in the verses before Thorpe thunders “Watch me! Watch me!” at full pelt in the chorus. It’s gooood.
Despite Thorpe’s grabbing vocals, Wild Beasts have decided not to ambush you in bringing on the noise. Instead they open the album with the tamed, brilliantly named “The Fun Powder Plot”, a slow-builder that is simple but brings you into the whole feel of the album. It melds into first single, and second track, “Hooting and Howling” wonderfully. It’s this type of moulding that makes this a truly great album. Nothing is clashing, everything sits perfectly and neatly next to each other despite the slight changes in light and shade between some of the tracks, and in an age where the album is being shunned in favour of downloading single tracks, it’s refreshing to find a band who have thought about an overall piece rather than just throwing random tracks together.
The title track is split into two pieces, the lighter first section and and much darker second wave. Both have the same lyrics, sung in different ways with a distinct change in tone between the guitars in each piece. Yet the two tracks slide into each other beautifully – it’s like trying to find a hairline crack in the dark, as the two songs are so lovingly pieced together that you could very easily miss where one track ends and the other starts.
And then we haven’t even got to the final few tracks on the album. “This Is Our Lot” is a more jaunty affair, although still keeping that dark undercurrent that runs through the entire album. “Underbelly” starts in an awfully dark, disturbing manner. Fleming sings in a very deep voice, while Thorpe plays an incredibly disturbing and slightly out-of-sync synth line. But then it descends into dreaminess – if you recognise the synth in the final third of this track that last less than 2 minutes, it’s because it’s used on the Santander advert. But it’s a lot more than just that song from the Santander advert.
If you’re up for giving falsetto vocals, drk undercurrents and patient build-ups a go then you should really invest in this perfectly formed, captivating record. It may be very short in length, but that’s all the Wild Beasts need to make you a convert, trust me.