There is a moment in Wild Beasts' new album 'Smother' where the
world fades away into an icy blue/grey mist before our eyes.
The song 'Burning' is one of the most extraordinarily affecting
inventions you are likely to hear this year (or perhaps in any
coming year). It is chilling and heartwarming in equal measure.
(The magic is not unlike the musical alchemy captured in Brian Eno
and Laraaji's 1980 collaboration 'Ambient 3 : Day Of Radiance').
Once Hayen Thorpe's voice gets inside your head its hard to get
it out. His distinctive falsetto and perfectly controlled vibrato
are, if anything, more focussed and affecting than on the band's last
splendid album, 2009's 'Two Dancers'. (Tom Fleming has a very fine
set of vocal chords too!) The ensemble seem to have hunkered down
and stripped away some of their wayward exoticism to reveal a more
concentrated and coherent manifestation of their idiosyncratic muse.
Whether in the jingly-jangly bouncey mid-tempo beats of the gloriously
soulful 'Loop The Loop'; the deeply sinister lyical imagery of 'Plaything';
the deliciously revolving melodic progressions of 'Albatross', or the
captivating romantic intensity of 'Invisible', it is abundantly
clear that we are in the company of a band of world-class ability.
The bitter-sweet ambiguity of their vision takes one's breath away!
Like the worm in the heart of William Blake's Sick Rose (and just as
English to the core) it is an exhilarating marriage of beauty and decay.