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Wild Beasts - Future Perfect
on 24 February 2014
The return of Kendall wonders the Wild Beasts feels like the arrival of spring following months of the torrential deluge, There is a special ingredient about this British band in comparison to their contemporaries that suggests the upper reaches of the Premier league compared to the lower divisions of the crushingly indifferent indie music circulating at present. "Present Tense' is the long awaited fourth album from the Wild Beasts, and it builds on the electronica trend of the last album "Smother". Hayden Thorpe and crew took a decidedly "Kid A" style turn with the latter and abandoned guitars in favour of elegant sweeping synths, combined with deep seductive melodies and sophisticated soundscapes.
Some will argue that the dandy decadent edge of the band has suffered because of this which is probably true, but who is complaining when the music is quite this good. "Present Tense" commences with the single "Wanderlust" a thing of rich beauty, with crunching synths and a typically brilliant opening line "We're decadent beyond our means, with a zeal/We feel the things they'll never feel". Throughout the album, the lyrical content is sharp, witty and often very funny. The vocal duties are as usual shared by Thorpe and the deeper tones of Tom Fleming. His performance on "Daughters" is stunning. It is one of the album's highlights, a sinister and slow piece of electronica that is utterly compelling, although the haunting penultimate track "New Life" is almost its match . This album also includes the bands most commercial moment to date in the lively "A Simple Beautiful Truth" a piece of pop perfection which would not go amiss soundtracking the sun going down on a Mediterranean Isle.
Throughout the quality never dips and the listener can safely be pointed to other songs which will intrigue and compel. Fleming again takes the vocal lead on "Nature Boy" and you sense this is the type of music that James Blake is struggling to make. It is cut from a dark hue and sees Fleming declare "Your only joy, only bliss/Your lady wife around his hips". Thorpe, however, matches ever move not least on the beautiful bubbling closer "Palace" a song that has already been subject in this house to more repeats than "Dad's Army".
"Present Tense" like all Wild Beasts albums reveals its charms with some discretion. On repeated listens this reviewer has also been drawn to "Sweet Spot" which is more like the Wild Beasts of "Two Dancers" comprising dual vocals by Thorpe and Fleming. As ever we forget at our peril the brilliance of the musicians behind the two vocalists Ben Little (guitar, keyboards) and Chris Talbot (drums, vocals) who brilliantly anchor this wonderful music.