Wild Beasts – Smother
Ever since I discovered Wild Beasts just by sifting through new releases I’ve swirled around this band quite casually. I’ve always been highly amused by their quirkiness and cheek, but not for a minute did I expect them to strike an emotional chord with me. ‘Smother’ came from out of nowhere and did just that. I hate surprises, but this is an exception. Upon hearing about this new record I was slightly worried about the slow-paced nature of the songs but I reckoned they deserve a chance, so I gave it a whirl. Turns out I was the one who had to deserve to listen to this. This is all I’ve dared to put into words.
‘Lion’s Share‘ lifts off with a palpitating bassloop and a splash of tinkling ivory. Any frail, unsuspecting pianopop-loving creature like me would be easily fooled into believing this is to be a regular popsong with a creeping build-up and an epic climax. How we got fooled! As such an unsuspecting creature I got caught and dragged into the glowering, rumbling silence that is Smother. A silence that took time to adjust to, but quickly turned into something I never thought I would need.
The songs take you through the joys of life, the bad days and the end of things. Putting it more simply: sex, regret and death. Or in other words: everything that’s always on everyone’s mind. Yeah, you go ahead and deny it. Sex has most definitely been on the minds of all those journalists listening to this record. You can’t blame them, it’s crawling all over the melodies, the hooks, and obviously the lyrics. Now this isn’t new territory for the band, rather their unique selling point. On Two Dancers, their second album, while I thought I was only imagining things, it turned out I wasn’t imagining anything. They were actually singing about gentle fucks and dancing cocks.
Their lust for lust hasn’t weakened, instead it grew into this uncompromising longing that’s difficult to compare to anything else in music. Well, LL Cool J eat your heart out is what I say. Did the sexual innuendo sound oddly cute on the first two records, thinking of ‘She Purred, While I Grrred‘ for example, on ‘Smother’ with a song like ‘Plaything‘ it’s bordering on creepy. Or terribly sexy, whatever floats your boat. I’m constantly hovering between the two.
What drew me closer however were songs like ‘Deeper‘ and ‘Invisible‘. Tom Fleming’s the leading man here, which is no coincidence. As phenomenal as I believe Thorpe’s voice to be, (and yes, an acquired taste for many I guess) it’s Fleming’s embracing vocals that put my feet back on the ground. His voice adds such fragility to the words he’s written and they are the ones that put Thorpe’s into perspective for me. They do both seem to wander towards a deeper understanding of themselves and the human condition as personal and as unpretentious as possible. As ‘End Come Too Soon‘ draws to a sparkling, still slightly restrained close I was left, old sap that I am, moved and humbled.
As young and exceedingly talented as all four of them are, I tend to ponder the future for these chaps. But right now I wish for this record to, preferably literally, ‘surround me like a warm bath’, and let the future wait for its turn. Having relished in oldie goldie music for ages I want to enjoy whatever good music gets put out there, as a 20-something by 20-somethings. Once we reach that age where we’ll be feeling the end breathing down our necks, let us rejoice the golden days, have a pint, a good chat, and find solace in music. ‘Will you by any chance..’ ‘Yes I will’.
P.S. One pressing piece of advice before I let you watch the video below: if you ever catch them live take caution if you feel the urge to sing a long. You’ll look like a knobhead squeeking ‘Hatch me! Hatch me!’. Trust me.
P.S.P.S. Oh hold on, care for a proper gig recording featuring the new stuff? I highly recommend 3voor12′s video of their London Calling gig in Amsterdam’s Paradiso on May 21st.
‘Reach A Bit Further’ (acoustic)