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Album Review: Wild Beasts – ‘Smother’

Wild Beasts could have easily failed epically with their third studio album. After the success of 2009’s Two Dancers, that had major music sites and bloggers alike growling about their genius, add in being short-listed for the 2010 Mercury Prize ( won by the xx), and the pressure was on this Kendal band. Yet, with Smother Wild Beasts more than satisfies to bring an album full of atmospheric pop-rock.

Smother is the result of two weeks intensive writing in east London followed by a month’s isolation of recording in Wales. Both locations are present on the album, with the solitude of Wales in the instrumentation, while the lyrics of wonton lovers can easily be recognised as people that troll around east London. Track “Bed of Nails” shows this marriage best, with the misty keys that remind you of a brisk Welsh morning and lyrics, ‘I would lay anywhere with you/any old bed of nails would do’ can only connote an idea of a dingy Shoreditch flat.

Opening track “Lion’s Share” shows the more delicate side of lead vocalist Hayden Thorpe’s voice, adding in some of his infamous wailing, reminiscent of tracks like “All The King’s Men” from Two Dancers.

That’s not to say that Smother is simply a continuation from their last album. With tracks like “Plaything” opening with rolling drums, Thorpe shows off his falsetto chops and exploration of a sinister romance with a chorus of, ‘You’re my plaything/ And I’m wondering what you’re thinking.’ Along with “Reach A Bit Further” that brings a bit of a pick-up with plucky guitars to an otherwise moody album, makes Smother feel like a step forward towards a more diverse sound and firmer understanding of their themes of desire, lust, and love.

More info about Wild Beasts can be found here.


-Stevie Pearce

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