Album: Wild Beasts, Smother (Domino)


Wild Beasts' follow-up to their Mercury-nominated Two Dancers is a much more concentrated, mature work, which focuses on the lures and snares of desire and sensuality, the way they breach any emotional firewall and override more sensible intentions.

It's a wise move: apart from anything else, it provides a more suitable vehicle for the flamboyant delivery of Hayden Thorpe, whose tremulous tenor seems more anchored here, less prone to fly into falsetto flights of fancy. Musically, the band's professed admiration for the experimentation of Talk Talk is perhaps most clearly realised in "Deeper", where the intimate little flicks and shudders of sound coalesce delicately into a gentle momentum that avoids settling into any familiar song structure. Elsewhere, the arpeggiating minor-key chords and tiny lead-guitar details of "Reach a Bit Further" pursue a melody and structure more characteristic of Radiohead, while the marimba-tone keyboards of "Albatross" and stately but implacable tom-toms of "Plaything" both recall the innovatory rhythms and textures of Can – both ideal influences for a band that wants to be "progressive" without lapsing into endless soloing or pseudo-classicism.

The pulsing keyboard bass and prim piano of "Lion's Share" sets the tone for the whole album, Thorpe exulting in the particularities and opportunities of imperfection: "I love you all the more for every fault – they're how I'd gotten in, they're how I cracked the vault". The suggestion of self-deprecation persists into "Bed of Nails", where he admits, "I would lie anywhere with you – any old bed of nails will do", as fancy guitar filigree decorates the repetitive, minimalist keyboard figure, and the drums ingeniously play around the beat without pushing it. Later, in "Plaything", the mutuality of dominance and surrender that accompanies fresh desire is characterised as each party being the other's sensual plaything, an alliance neatly summarised in the line "I concur, I conquer".

There are plenty of deft musical strategies illuminating the band's view of romance – I particularly liked the way that the zither-like waves of dulcimer in "Burning", picked out with glistening glockenspiel details, evoked the dizzying, miasmic whirl of emotion – but ironically, there are moments when Wild Beasts are too restrained for their own good. The damped chording and tom-tom tattoo of "Invisible", for instance, is a touch too methodical and diffident; and pleasing as the puttering groove and cyclical guitar of "Loop the Loop" is, it somehow fails to raise the required spirit. And though eminently capable of adding intriguing fresh coinings to the overstuffed lexicon of love – as with the eager "surround me like a warm bath, sum me up like an epitaph" – there are times when their imagery gets the better of them, most notably in "Albatross", where the titular metaphor confuses rather than clarifies the arc of desire. But overall, Smother finds Wild Beasts hurdling that difficult third album with some aplomb.

DOWNLOAD THIS Lion's Share; Bed of Nails; Deeper; Plaything; Reach a Bit Further

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk