Wild Beasts, Two Dancers

Published on July 30th, 2010 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Ann Clarke

Its not often that I’m ever impressed with any new band. I rarely am . . . but occasionally something crosses my radar that is worth further investigation. Wild Beasts are one of those oddities that I probably would’ve overlooked due to their stupid name. However, the stupidity stops right there with their name, and after listening to them, it is ironically appropriate.

My first impression was, “Holy shit! This guy has an incredible voice!” That much is true! The singer, Hayden Thorpe, has a countertenor voice that truly evokes the late, great Billy MacKenzie of The Associates. The Associates didn’t really have groundbreaking music per se, but Billy’s voice was so astounding, it’s what made me take notice of them in the first place.

wild beasts two dancers

Hayden’s voice also has tinges of Jimmy Somerville (the singer of both Bronski Beat and The Communards). Jimmy is another singer who has octaves that you wouldn’t think were possible for a member of the male gender to reach. There are lower vocal ranges on this album, and these sound a little like both Alison Moyet (Yaz) and Andy Bell (Erasure). I will note that not every song has lead vocals by Hayden.

Wild Beasts technically have two singers, and the other one is Tom Fleming. Both singers are really good, and their voices are quite similar (the only way you’d realize there were two singers would be to watch a video or read the liner notes). Actually, a good analogy would be how Dave Gahan and Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) have very similar voices, but Dave’s is more masculine and Martin’s is more feminine. In this case, Tom’s is more masculine and Hayden’s is more feminine.

The music itself isn’t synth-pop-based like some of the aforementioned band comparisons. It’s actually more like Franz Ferdinand’s hybrid of new wave/post punk. The guitar work echoes early U2 a bit, and its pretty obvious that Wild Beasts quite like that reverb/pan-delay that The Edge is famous for. It doesn’t drag on and on either (which is why I compared it to Franz Ferdinand, because they have the ability to keep a song going along without drifting off into a boring soundscape. The music is tight, but it has good hooks!) Most of Wild Beasts’ songs are five minutes and under, but have enough variations to keep a listener focused.

Lyrically the songs are definitely youth angst driven. A very rebellious theme is omnipresent, but it’s not necessarily an inarticulate youth revolt. Then again, they could very well be saying, “Fuck you and suck my cock!” and it would still sound pretty! Seriously, the voices are just that pleasant on my ear . . . and that is kind of odd since sometimes when I hear a man’s voice that sounds like a woman, I find it annoying. I think the reason Wild Beasts appeals to me more is that musically it’s more of an intricate rock structure instead of a lengthy, self-fellating, weirdo-fest!

(Case in point . . . I have a hard time listening to Antony Hegarty. He’s got beautiful voice, but there’s something really creepy and unsettling about it, and I usually don’t like the musical accompaniment with it. Plus, he seems to be the “go-to” voice when it comes to androgyny these days, and I’m sick of it. He’s name-dropped too much, and when that happens too much within the music industry, I take it less seriously.)

Anyhow, my favorite track off of Two Dancers is “We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues.” It’s a ridiculously catchy song, and honestly it took only one listen to get it stuck in my head . . . and I think permanently. I’ve been finding myself humming it constantly!

Other stand-outs from the album are: “The Fun Powder Plot,” “All the King’s Men,” and “Underbelly.” The first single from Two Dancers was “Hooting & Howling,” but I feel the other songs have more to offer the listener.

I’m actually glad that my first proper introduction to this band was listening to the album from beginning to end with no prior knowledge of the group or what they sound like. I still don’t know much about them, but I’d be willing to keep on listening to them if they keep going.

Two Dancers was released on September 8, 2009 on Domino. Check out the band’s website or MySpace page to listen to tracks. A ten-inch for “We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues” will be out on August 3.

Wild Beasts will be playing in the US, Canada, and the UK through September, including Lollapalooza on August 13, and the Reading Festival on August 29.

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