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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give it time
Though a massive Wild Beasts fan I have to admit being somewhat disapointed in this album upon the first couple of listens. It didnt seem to have the echoey rhythmic groove and interlocking melodies of the stellar Two Dancers. Yet critics in newspapers and magazines up and down the land were raving about it. Was I missing something? Is it a critcs album - easier to admire...
Published on 22 May 2011 by S. Reid

versus
0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting yet slightly disappointing
I saw this group for the first time on 'Later with Jules Holland' and was interested in the 2 songs that they played and felt they were an imaginative and different type of group! The album I have to admit is somewhat disappointing and I have only listened to it on a few occasions as did not find it very inspiring! I know that often you need to listen to an album a...
Published on 11 Oct 2011 by Pendora


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give it time, 22 May 2011
By 
S. Reid "happy_daze" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
Though a massive Wild Beasts fan I have to admit being somewhat disapointed in this album upon the first couple of listens. It didnt seem to have the echoey rhythmic groove and interlocking melodies of the stellar Two Dancers. Yet critics in newspapers and magazines up and down the land were raving about it. Was I missing something? Is it a critcs album - easier to admire than to love?

After half a dozen listens it became clear to me why the reviews were so good. It was simply a case that journalists had advance copies and had been listening to the album for longer. For Smother takes you by stealth...slowly reeling you in over a number of listens. Each time I listen I hear a new melodic touch, a phrasing, subtle changes in tempo or vocal inflection. Every note has been lovingly crafted.

This is an intimate album, both in terms of subject matter and it's relationship with the listener. This is not something you have on in the car on the way to the supermarket. The music envelopes you, warming you in waves of texture and dreamy melodic beauty. Rhythms are often hinted rather than overt. Benny Little's guitar, appearing almost absent during the first couple of listens, is weaving a chiming backdrop over which the electronics and piano glide. The drumming is sparse and Steve Jansen-esque.

Then there is the vocals.

Hayden Thorpe has now entirely ditched the histrionics of Limbo,Panto and his voice moves from an intimate whisper to yearning and ecstatic by degrees. Tom seems to have dropped the deep baritone in favour of a warmer mid range vocal styling. There is far more interchange between the two singers than on either of the previous two albums.

Wild Beasts are, in my opinion, in a class of their own at the moment. This new album builds on the progress they made with Two Dancers and takes them in a more stripped down and sparse, yet intimate and erotic direction. Comparisons to the majestic Spirit Of Eden by Talk Talk (one of the greatest albums ever recorded) are not too far from the mark (though I would also chuck in nods to Japan, David Sylvian, Talking Heads and The Blue Nile).

Ultimately though Wild Beasts are unique. And that is why we love them.

Buy it. Play it. Fall in love with it.

Get smothered.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Worm In The Rose, 9 May 2011
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
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.

Essential.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Beasts - The Sensual World, 9 May 2011
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
It was a strange kind of purgatory in 2009 determining whether Animal Collective's superb prankster innovation on "Merriweather Post Pavilion" or the captivating flamboyant melodrama of Wild Beasts "Two Dancers" was that years best album. It was the Kendall wonders that came out on top for this reviewer with a British album that was so good that the Mercury judges should have been sectioned for locating their prize elsewhere. Now 2011 sees music fans being loaded with an embarrassment of riches with the Fleet Foxes, Low, Elbow, Josh T Pearson and PJ Harvey making superb contributions. This third from the Wild Beasts, the best British band of the past three years, cements this trend.

"Smother" is an album that is so different from its predecessor. The ostentation of "Two Dancers" is reigned in and the brazenness pulled back. Guitars are noticeable by their absence and in come elegant sweeping synths, combined with deep seductive melodies and sophisticated soundscapes. This album draws more on Talk Talk of the era of "New Grass" than it does the Smiths, which was "Two Dancers" primary source. Undoubtedly some will be completely alienated or find this a very slow burner that appears underwhelming with its lack of hedonism. Alternatively others who carefully listen will hear one of the most strikingly attractive albums produced by any rock band in recent times. At the core of this is the vocal partnership of Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming that has developed into one of music's great double acts. Thorpe's wonderfully contained falsetto reminds you on times of Anthony Hegarty but on "Smother" his performance is matched by Fleming's deeper and richer bass voice. Both sing on the sumptuous opener "Lion's share" which starts with a huge pulsating synth and Thorpe announcing, "I find you hid in mirrorville/creature of the deep/waifish as a widow/and without sufficient sleep". It is complimented by a rolling piano, all sorts of studio trickery and is an absolute sultry joy of a song. Next up is the most immediate and commercial song on the album "Bed of Nails" which could have appeared on Fever Ray's recent pop epic. Fleming takes the lead on the "Deeper" and it is one of the albums standouts with slow and refrained piece of minimalist funk. Guitars finally make an appearance on "Loop the loop" but as a melodic backdrop to a swelling song of real warmth and beauty (there is not one guitar solo on the whole album). "Plaything" reminds you of some of the preoccupations of James Blake with its electro atmospherics and emphasis on manipulating tension.

Fleming takes the helm again for "Invisible" a much grander beast than "Deeper" and it is followed by the single "Albatross" which sees Thorpe at his most operatic on a song of undulating wonder. The last three tracks are led by "Reach a bit further" possibly the weakest song on the album. But the menacing "Burning" which Fleming infuses with the ghostly aura of David Sylvain's "Ghosts" brilliantly compensates this. Finally comes the best song on the album the near eight minute "End come to soon" a sensual erotic synth epic where Thorpe alludes at one point to someone "Whose butter-fingers rip me like bread/Whose dirty mouth would have me merry head". The song gently fades in its mid section but returns with a vengeance at around 5.50 minutes marking a triumphant end to the album. "Smother" also manages to leave off the album the deeply slow and gentle title track, which frankly is a bit odd (it's the B side to Albatross), but it shows a band with songs and talent to spare. This third album represents a journey so far-flung from the "Brave, bulging, buoyant, clairvoyants" of their debut "Limbo Panto" as to make that sound like a very distant relative. It confirms the Wild Beasts as the one of the main contenders for the crown of British music.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stratospheric delight!, 22 Dec 2011
By 
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
I first listened to this album on a long-haul flight. (It was either this or Mike Bubble!) I set the entertainment system to repeat and lay back and listened. The engines of the plane were loud and the headphones were rubbish, but as the plane got higher and higher I got deeper and deeper into the music ...

The Beasts are hard to categorize, very unique. They seem to combine the naked emotional honesty of The Smiths with the 'percussive precision' of Talk Talk. Many of the songs are intimate, soft-focused elegies that although not immediately accessible will eventually take hold and not let you go until you have fully appreciated all that they offer. There is slightly less whooping and hollering from Hayden Thorpe and we hear more from Tom Fleming which I think benefits the whole album. In particular, they are not afraid to let their voices drift away and let the music come to the fore. The epic closer, `End Come Too Soon' is a perfect example of this.

Not only is the music beautifully constructed and crafted, but the lyrics also reward investigation. Like Mumford&Sons, the Beasts have started to mine literary and cinematic themes to complement their lyrical offerings. On `Bed of Nails', we have Hamlet serenading his tragic love Opheilia with amusing word play '... Oh Ophelia, I feel you ..., I feel you ...' and later on Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is summoned up to express the intensity of the love that has been born! 'It's alive!' `Albatross' has obvious references to Coleridge's epic maritime poem, `The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. Apparently, the film, `Woman on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown' by cinematic maestro Pedro Almodovar is the inspiration for 'Loop the Loop'. A song about the heart - that most resilient of muscles. The most famous line in the film is referenced in the song, 'How many men have you had to forget? - As many as the women you remember'.

Highlights are many; the swirling repetition of `Loop the Loop', the eerie and stealth-like threat of `Plaything', (Is his new `squeeze' human or plastic?) and `Bed of Nails' is fast-becoming one of my favourite `alternative' love-songs. I love the lines, `Ink up the wound for a crude tattoo, A big old red heart with an anchor stuck through'. Morrissey would be proud of that couplet!

As the plane journey came to an end, I was drowsy but still listening to 'Smother'. The pilot informed us that our landing time would be delayed. I was relieved; I hadn't finished listening to the album ... for about the eleventh time!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A slow burning masterpiece, 15 May 2011
This review is from: Smother (MP3 Download)
An incredible album, from opening track "Lion's Share" hushed beauty to "End come too soons" majestic closing. The vocals are shared throughout the album and are both equally impeccable, whether its Haydens fantastic falsetto or Toms haunted croon. You could say that every track is a standout but if I had to pick I'd say Lions Share, Loop The Loop and Albatross are a good place to start. Loop the loop contains a central point of despair and regret that's unlike no other and is Haydens big moment. Toms highlight is in the song "Invisible" which has a surging backing and gorgeous harmonics. The lyrical themes of love, lust and sex is delivered with such passion. It is a slow burner of an album and benefits from repeated listens. Each song worms its way inside your brain and you'll discover something new each time. Stunning.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 9 May 2011
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
Even more Wild Beastsy than Two Dancers: there's Michael Nyman in here, Coldplay, Sigur Ros, Uncle Tom Cobbley & All. Grown Up music for Grown-Ups and absolutely best experienced in it's entirety, catching the rhythms of the musical tides that ebb and flow; the rephrasing of the opening of track 1 in the opening of the magisterial track 10 (which could not be more aptly titled). I've had my copy since midday on Friday and have played it to death over the weekend (& it's playing now as I type). Don't hesitate; buy it, buy it, buy it!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 17 May 2011
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
I'm not going to write an in depth review and go over what's been written already - just give my opinions.
I was totally in love with 2 Dancers. Seeing these guys last year was one of the best gigs I've ever been to (and I'm nearly 40!) I was so looking foward to this album. Although it is a very good album indeed, it lacks the magic, spine tingling moments of the previous album - such as when the drums power back in on '2 Dancers 1' or the transition from verse to chorus in 'still got the taste...' or the whole of 'this is our lot'. It's all a bit easy listening for my taste and this suits the 2 excellent voices almost too much. I liked the edgy guitar pop meeting the classical vocals of the previous album and the growling lunacy of the first album. Something in these near opposites made something magical.
I saw them live again last week and it was very clear that the old songs worked better live although I thought the drumming sounded excellent on the new songs.
That said, I do like it. End Comes Too Soon is my current favourite. I feel it washes over me instead of grabbing me by the throat.
I feel awful about giving the first non-5 star review to this lovely CD. I will definitely see the at Glastonbury to give the live versions another go.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOP Album, 12 May 2011
By 
C. S. Redford (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
I got Two Dancers around the time they were nominated for the Mercury Award in 2010 and it very quickly became my album of the year. Smother, I feel, is a real step forward. After one listen is obvious this will be on my iPod for weeks and months to come. Great great album, great great band - what's more to say?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully produced, 23 Jan 2013
By 
Martin Fielding (Findon, West Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
I have come to the Wild Beasts late but the best compliment that I can give to this band is that they can justifiably lay claim to being the inheritors of The Blue Nile - sparse but elegant arrangements, really beautiful singing and interesting lyrics (printed in full on the inlay). No higher praise is necessary. Buy this now!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing find, 30 May 2012
This review is from: Smother (Audio CD)
I heard this in my local indie record store when I was mooching around looking for something to catch my eye ( or rather, my ear). I am probably not your typical WB fan (50 yr old female) but there is something so original about their music that I went back the next day and bought the other two albums.
Very original, haunting and unusual music. I cannot think of anything to compare their music to per se, but in its uniqueness it reminds me of The Smiths. And I can't think of a greater compliment than that. Bring on the next album please.
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Smother
Smother by Wild Beasts (Audio CD - 2011)
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