Wild Beasts ‘Smother’ (Domino Records)
Wild Beasts provide us with their third album five years after their first single.
It seems a like a substantial time for development and certainly enough time to mature to whatever sound they wish to present to their audience. So they give to us ”ËSmother’. The title itself reveals a lot about the album and foreshadows the majority of the content portrayed with the ten track release. The album is essentially a ghost of sexual feeling, lust and emotion, using the four band members as its catalyst to show us a rather dark and haunting side to the ironically named Wild Beasts.
The contrast between voices of vocalists Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming has always been the most unique and arguably the most important factor in setting apart this band from any other. The start of the album combines both voices with Fleming providing his minimalist harmony style over Thorpe’s eerie falsetto. This, provided with the unexpected combination of both piano and synth, creates an incredibly haunting start to the album; certainly enough to send shivers down the spine.
The album presents us with the dark and seedy interpretation of sex through the inspiration of Mary Shelley’s ”ËFrankenstein’. “When our bodies become electrified/Together we bring this creature to life”Â (Bed of Nails) highlights the murky and gritty themes that are incorporated in this album and outlines the rough narrative the album is based on. The mere fact that the band is being inspired by works of classic literature clearly enhances the proof of their growing maturity as artists and draws us into how their minds are working. Using intertextuality in this case and shaping the album on other themes is a method that should be used more often for other artists. A lot of the current and important sociological themes have already been presented through literature and film and it takes a band like Wild Beasts to drag it through another medium, albeit “dragged”Â gracefully.
The simplicity is another thing that Wild Beasts do very well with this album. Fair enough, we have established that Hayden Thorpe can sing with incredible beauty, but they do the simple things so well. “I’m your plaything”Â Thorpe wails out over a build up of an Atrocity Exhibition-esque drum track with the simple electronics building up and sneaking the song into a much louder and complex track. Then there is ”ËInvisible’, my personal favourite on the album. Tom Fleming’s much deeper and soothing contrast of vocals on this track, whilst Thorpe swaps his harmony role, hits the album with the emotion it has been portraying throughout. “I see our enemies/I see them on their knees/Crawling across the floor/You kill them all”Â The lyrics provide optimism to the album, the uplifting tone to the vocals portrays that of a dream and uses the description of ”Ëenemies’ as a connotation of war and pain.
The track ”ËAlbatross’ is one to be remembered on the album for its percussion. The drums are simple yet they hit the ears as they are sharp and clear, much like most of the aspects of this track. The vocals are clear and crisp and float through the track’s consistent guitar arpeggio. The track is similar to its successor, ”ËReach A Bit Further’ in which both vocalists highlight their ability through the sharing of the track.
The album is certainly a very vocally orientated set of tracks. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed about Wild Beasts. They have always played to their strengths and why change that. The vocals are incredibly beautiful and haunting and provide such a wonderful addition to the dazzling and alluring instrumentals throughout the album.
The album ends with a seven minute round off to the album, ”ËEnd Come Too Soon’, which sums up the whole album. The track itself is almost a piano ballad with Fleming taking up his usual harmony role and them both leading us into the abyss and back out again with the climax of the track, Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto singing “It’s too soon”Â. I couldn’t agree more. I could wait a long time for the end of this album.
The album is not only musically and instrumentally a masterpiece, but also as poetry, as a piece of literature, as a story, it is phenomenal. Wild Beasts, a band that is constantly growing and stepping up to new levels and consistently search for new inspirations and ideas for both their music and for their lyrics. It’s an album to be remembered for definite, simply for its beauty.
LTW – Wild Beasts tour the UK in November; Tickets on general sale 09.00hrs Fri 13th May – Details HERE