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Smother CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 May 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Domino Records
  • ASIN: B004P1IQ0G
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,438 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Third studio album by the British indie rock group. The album has been very well received by critics and features the tracks 'Albatross', 'Bed of Nails' and 'Lion's Share'.

BBC Review

Wild Beasts’ rise from cult concerns loved by a critical clique, through Mercury Prize-nominated sorts with a sharp and saucy twist on typical indie tropes, to this third album of quiet, measured majesty represents a victory for individuality over intermittent trend-hopping. The Kendal-formed four-piece have only ever done things their way – and while early singles for Leeds-based indie Bad Sneakers lacked the production polish of later recordings, they possessed a singular potential. The band now ranks as this nation’s most wonderfully esoteric, absorbingly unique act. They are a vivid example of Britain’s ever-evolving, always riveting relationship with pop, able to court commercial audiences while maintaining an important air of confidence, of conviction with their craft, which drives these songs into the heart and soul of the listener.

Smother was created in relative isolation, in Wales, and it sounds like it: on Deeper, Tom Fleming sings that "all else falls away", and while in the company of this record it’s entirely likely that the outside world will, indeed, fade into insignificance. It’s that sort of special collection, one that manifests an entirely believable, almost tangible soundworld which one can’t help but inhabit alongside its creators. And it’s only a few steps forward before the first rabbit hole blocks the path, into which a stumble is inevitable. Hayden Thorpe introduces Lion’s Share atop a synthesised throb; but it’s when the plaintive piano begins that the piece commences its hypnotic charm, and one becomes deeply enveloped. "What are you running from?" asks Fleming, here taking the lyrical spotlight more frequently than on the past two albums. Truth is that we’re not running from anything at all. Rather, we’re racing towards the band, eager to discover what’s around the next compositional turn.

Lion’s Share is gorgeous, no question about it. A simple, seductive song that opens an album which, largely, continues in a similar vein: here lies mystery, romance, tall tales told by men who surely wouldn’t just make this stuff up. It’s there in their eyes, the reality of the experience and the sincerity of their stories. Again, Thorpe’s thematically entrenched in a loved-one’s undergarments on more than one occasion: Bed of Nails is one such number, albeit with lines like "surround me like a warm bath" conveying a more emotional connection than the borderline smut of their last LP, Two Dancers. Plaything is a little more teasing, rather more distant with its affections – although it discusses uncertainty with what its protagonist’s paramour is thinking, suggesting tentativeness where once there was thrust and swagger. Invisible is wholly different – Fleming, flanked by understated instrumentation, seems lost in melancholy, offering farewells to "things I thought I’d want"; its final line, a literal kiss-off, is devastatingly exquisite. The song is another tender, almost unsettlingly touching moment on a collection replete with them.

Anyone who has seen the video to lead single Albatross will have an idea of what to expect here: an uncommon beauty, distilled through disquiet, presented at what appears to be high-definition half-speed. This is a world away from the boisterousness of the band’s debut, Limbo, Panto – a world of self-discovery, unexpected achievements and focused development. If this doesn’t secure Wild Beasts another Mercury Prize nomination, it’d be a travesty for British pop. They are, right now, the most inspirational, intriguing, effortlessly enrapturing band at work on these shores. And Smother might well prove to be the album of 2011.

--Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By S. Reid VINE VOICE on 22 May 2011
Format: 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.
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By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 May 2011
Format: 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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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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.
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