Wild Beasts, Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Thursday 24 November 2011
Sold-out signs at the first of two dates
here hint at the possible rewards for bands that refuse to play the percentages.
Best known for Hayden Thorpe’s Marmite countertenor, Wild Beasts have been
dividing opinion since they emerged in 2008, yet have carried on challenging
their dedicated fanbase through continual
Tonight’s hardcore followers seem to be able to spot any tune from three albums within one or two opening notes, despite the group’s development. Rather than deliver more of the same, the Cumbrian foursome – now decamped to London – decided less is more and have gradually stripped back their sound since the exuberant art-pop of debut album Limbo, Panto. Their finely honed grooves on 2009’s Two Dancers earned them a Mercury nomination and wider recognition, while its follow-up Smother, released earlier this year, sees the Beasts explore texture as well as groove.
Slowing down the tempo suits their new subject matter, which sees Thorpe move on from odes to animal carnality and street violence to more romantic yearning on the likes of ‘Bed Of Nails’. At their best, Wild Beasts captivate by amassing various threads into a rich tapestry. Drummer Chris Talbot defines the space by weaving ever more complex webs, from his sparse pattern on the hushed ‘Deeper’ to the gentle shuffle of ‘Reach A Bit Further’. That is also a fine vehicle for another underappreciated talent, Thorpe’s fellow vocalist Tom Fleming, whose earthier, more classically northern, tone cuts through his bandmate’s sometimes treacly delivery.
Occasionally, the glistening ambience falls short, too delicate to carry the group’s lyrical weight, notably on ‘Albatross’ when Fleming and Thorpe face each other across opposing synths. Otherwise, the boys are unfailingly polite, perhaps too well mannered when earlier, more propulsive numbers lack bite. ‘Hooting And Howling’ needs more drive, even when Thorpe adds a startling growl. Better is the Blondie-style disco pulse of ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues’ and the afrobeat twitch of ‘Devil’s Crayon’, before Fleming reprises his previous lustiness during the encore on ‘All The King’s Men’.
At the end, though, Wild Beasts do make their newfound minimalism stick on a delightful finale, the epic ‘End Comes Too Soon’ that collapses at one point into a shimmering haze underscored by a sinister, cavernous pulse that the band, almost lost in darkness, maintain for several minutes, before the song comes roaring back, revealing the beast within.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 3 Scottish referendum 'English question': Tory MPs call on David Cameron to create an English first minister in wake of No vote
- 4 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Doctor Who, Time Heist, review: Keeley Hawes is marvellous but the Doctor is the real villain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'