Album: Wild Beasts, Smother (Domino)
Wild Beasts were, they now admit, on the brink of getting proper jobs when their second album Two Dancers got a surprise Mercury nomination in 2010. They enter their third with an actual audience awaiting it, and the distinct potential to "do an Elbow".
The Cumbrian quartet haven't fumbled the ball with the follow-up. Smother, recorded in the shadow of Snowdonia, tinkles and twinkles like the classiest adult-alternative pop of the 1980s – think Talk Talk circa Spirit of Eden, the Associates circa Sulk or the Blue Nile circa A Walk Across the Rooftops – with its delicate, intelligent percussion, elegant synths and finger-picked acoustic guitars, with leader Hayden Thorpe's falsetto soaring and skylarking above it all like some Kendal-based Antony Hegarty.
The magical extra element is Richard Formby, whose understated production adds just the right amount of fairydust.
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