Wild Beasts, an English trio fronted by eccentric and theatrical singer-guitarist Hayden Thorpe,
debuted with the eclectic cauldron of postures of
Limbo Panto (Limbo, 2008), whose songs
evoked different kinds of stage:
exotic club (She Purred While I Grrred),
cocktail lounge (Please Sir),
cabaret (The Club Of Fathomless Love),
discotheque (Woebegone Wanderers),
theater (Vigil For A Fuddy Duddy),
and saloon (Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants, the most poignant).
Thorpe's operatic falsetto is a mixed blessing though.
For better and for worse, Two Dancers (2009) is less vibrant and less
eccentric. The good news is that the vocals are less obnoxiously theatrical.
In fact, All The Kings Men stands like a rite of passage, with a
sardonic baritone rant obliterating the old falsetto.
Having disposed of the voice, the focus shifts towards the rhythm.
It is largely the rhythm that bestows an identity on the
techno-exotic ballet The Fun Powder Plot and
on the cabaret-esque verve of Hooting & Howling, two of the highlights.
Similarities with the post-punk and pre-synthpop generation of
Japan and the Simple Minds become more apparent.
And, just like with that generation, the ballads become more atmospheric
(We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues,
This Is Our Lot).
Smother (2011) is a bit more neurotic, but the most tortured songs are
also the less accomplished. These Wild Beasts are better off sticking to their
very un-wild standards, like the
jangling single Albatross, and the
bouncy synth-pop of Bed of Nails.
They achieve an erotic zenith of sorts in Plaything, which could stand as
the manifesto of their entire mission.
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