Wild Beasts, Brixton Academy, gig review

A victory for contemporary outsiders

“What are you all doing here?” Tom Fleming asks tonight's bumper crowd, though the question really should be how these once awkward misfits have come so far. Having taken time out after 2011 album Smother, February's comeback effort Present Tense hit number ten in the charts.

Wild Beasts' fourth album is their most synth-focused work to date with lyricists Fleming and Hayden Thorpe losing much florid imagery for a more direct style. The group's sparser arrangements comfortably occupy the space of a larger canvas, with elegant electric piano and digital washes augmented by warm, throbbing bass.

While Thorpe's counter-tenor has long been the Beasts' most distinctive and divisive feature, now he applies his creamy falsetto to the group's most seductive songs to date, notably 'Palace' and 'A Simple Beautiful Truth'. The hirsute Fleming, meanwhile, replies with a rich, lower register on the foreboding 'Daughters' and 'Nature Boy'.

A tremendous laser show adds to the sense of occasion, though music, especially new material, takes centre stage. Lewd, guitar-heavy crowd faves 'All The King's Men' and 'The Devil's Crayon' are now joined by the powerful 'Wanderlust' with its hints of Talk Talk.

Without relying on retro styles, though, this is a victory for contemporary outsiders.

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