It was less than two years ago that Wild Beasts unleashed their first album upon us. The Yorkshire quartet delivered a record which had its roots in the off-kilter song dynamics of The Associates and the jangly pop of Orange Juice. There was no problem with ‘Limbo, Panto’ save the attention-seeking falsetto from Hayden Thorpe whose madness was likely to irritate as much as it was to thrill. The follow-up is definitely a more refined take on their music. It is still lyrically bonkers but sonically its delivery is much subtler.
A key element to the album is its two-part title track. Forming the centrepiece of the record, the first part is an odd but hypnotic piece full of murmuring, menace and mystery whilst the second part is delicate, fragile and disarmingly pretty as its romantic imagery (“O, Unpluckable Flower Of The Moon! O, Untetherable Bird Of The Blue!”) is sung atop some lovely chiming guitar.
There’s an aura of medieval sacrifices throughout the record and if there is a single quite as brilliantly idiosyncratic as ‘All The King’s Men’ released this year then I’d be very surprised. What is a song that is essentially about men seducing women (including “Girls from Shipley” and “Girls from Whitby”), is made into something beautiful thanks to the interplay between Thorpe’s theatrics and Tom Fleming’s appealing baritone. In fact Fleming’s vocals seem to feature on all the best moments with the brooding finale ‘Empty Nest’ providing another highlight.
To use the comparison with The Associates, one could suggest that if the first album was their ‘Sulk’, ‘Two Dancers’ is their ‘The Affectionate Punch’. Yet do not be fooled by the continual 1980’s references. Wild Beasts dare to be different and inhabit their own peculiar world, which is more likely to inspire a revival in witchcraft than enhance the stock of Orange Juice.
The Associates, Kate Bush, Liars