Kendal's pop experimentalists, Wild Beasts, found fame and critical acclaim after releasing 2009's Two Dancers, a record that highlighted lead singer Hayden Thorpe and co-vocalist Tom Fleming's remarkable falsettos. Known as an otherworldly, ethereal experience, Two Dancers celebrated dance and upbeat pop thanks to Chris Talbot's exceptional art of percussion, but also had a few moments that were slower, and more elaborate (“When I'm Sleepy,” “Underbelly.”) It is in these songs that built the foundation for the outfit's newest full length, Smother.
Smother explores the erotic downbeat, consisting of ten love ballads that are considerably more gradual than anything on Two Dancers. It is certainly a slower, more atmospheric album, allowing the band to implore methods as far away from rock as they've been since 2006's “Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants.” On Smother, the similarities it shares with its predecessor are notable, due partly to Thorpe's indistinguishable vocals, but mostly due to the unearthly, fragile ambience that is carried from Two Dancers' more provocative songs. It is the sheer haunting beauty expressed on Smother that is its essence; the slight electronic candescence of “Albatross,” the mysterious nature of opener “Lion's Share,” Thorpe's soft cooing on “Loop The Loop.”
The band picked up some rather unorthodox influences for Smother as well, citing experimental noise-pop duo Fuck Buttons as in influence, directly referencing Mary Shelley's “Frankenstein” in “Bed Of Nails.” Fleming had stated that here, Wild Beasts “spread their wings,” that thanks to the success of Two Dancers they were entirely free to record in a manner they saw fit. As lead single “Albatross” was one of the first they recorded in the process, its dainty pop construction and soft demeanor helped form the aesthetic for the remainder of the LP. Though still ultimately a pop band, Wild Beasts continue to divulge further into the outer edges of the abyss, mastering their craft with another marvelous achievement.
Stream the record in the player below; grab it on May 10th when it is released on Domino.
1. Lion’s Share
2. Bed Of Nails
4. Loop The Loop
8. Reach A Bit Further
10. End Come Too Soon