Wild Beasts – Present Tense Present Tense… Out now

Review: Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Published on March 17th, 2014 | Luke Cartledge

On “Palace”, the final track of Wild Beasts’ fourth LP Present Tense, Hayden Thorpe sweetly croons the following lines: “In detail you are/Even more beautiful than from afar”.

This lyric neatly sums up much of the Kendal four-piece’s output, particularly since their second album Two Dancers shook off much of the excitable melodrama that characterised their early releases.

They are a band whose sound requires close scrutiny to truly reveal its treasures, an act that richly rewards dedicated listeners. On Present Tense, they stick to this theme.

Although the record’s icy synths and crackling percussion parts are far more brazen than anything on Smother, the band’s mournful third effort, beneath these uncharacteristically aggressive soundscapes lie some of the most delicate and mesmerising moments yet recorded by Wild Beasts.

From the watery guitar chimes that gently propel “Sweet Spot” to the beautifully constructed ripple of the rhythm section on “Past Perfect” (Chris Talbot here cementing his place as one of Britain’s most inventive drummers of recent years), the band constantly lead the listener through musical twists and turns that, though sometimes unexpected, never feel less than completely natural.

A review of the record would be incomplete without some acknowledgement of the astonishing vocal performances on show here. Thorpe’s instantly recognisable falsetto has never sounded so controlled and vulnerable, nor has it ever combined to more dazzling effect with Tom Fleming’s rich, honeyed baritone.

On each album they release, Wild Beasts manage to expand their sonic parameters without ever losing the essence of what makes them so special. Present Tense is the purest distillation of that essence yet.

Present Tense is out now on Domino.

You can buy Present Tense on iTunes and on Amazon.

Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!

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About the Author

A musician, student and novelty Northerner in London, Luke spends most of his time obsessing over music of all types, studying at Goldsmiths University and getting lost on public transport.

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