Wild Beasts – Present Tense

A remarkable, thirst-quenching fourth LP...

Cast your mind back to 2007. The scene is a beery shower of post-Libertines lad bands, Arctic Monkeys are busy attaining some sort of God-like status, and you could still get on the bus for a quid. ‘Umbrella’ is number one for 10 weeks, and it rains constantly from there on out.

These are the conditions into which Kendal four-piece Wild Beasts swooped, like a cauldron of raptors, with their flamboyant whooping and growling, almost Hamlet-like peculiarities and ordinary guys appearance. The vocals of co-frontman Hayden Thorpe proved striking yet divisive, his high-note hitting ways like nails on a chalkboard to some. But nobody could deny the excitement of the band’s brilliantly florid debut album, 2008’s ‘Limbo, Panto’.

Another two critically acclaimed albums later and the quartet’s fourth LP finds them boldly embracing new production techniques, to a great extent withdrawing their fidgety jangles and guitar-led melodies for a pared-down electronic sound. ‘Daughters’, track five of 11, is almost skeletal in design, Tom Fleming’s vocals lurking ominously behind off-kilter percussion.

As always, Wild Beasts’ songs are unusually intimate, and the electronic evolution of ‘Present Tense’ captures their characteristically microscopic explorations of human interaction. The subsequent tension is palpable in ‘New Life’, a beautiful, soaring track with dark keys conjuring up celestial imagery, Fleming’s voice a mesmeric instrument unto itself.

“There are some thirsts that gotta be quenched,” sings Thorpe in ‘Mecca’. And after hearing this remarkable album, you can’t help but agree.


Words: Daisy Jones

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