WILD BEASTS – Two Dancers (Domino)

This album by Wild Beats has been getting a lot of good reviews recently, so I thought that it would be worth checking out to see what all the fuss was about. I came to this band knowing absolutely nothing about them, so it was up to them to impress me from the very first song. That song is ‘The Fun Powder Plot’, and musically it does the job from the off. I was sort of expecting Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto vocals, so tried not to be put off by them, and the fact that they are tempered by Tom Fleming’s rich tones taking over some of the vocal duties in this first song helps. ‘Hooting And Howling’ starts off like a gentle piano-led ballad, before picking up the pace for another lush indie-rocker, with some nice guitar lines scattered throughout the song. ‘All The King’s Men’ is a Fleming vocal, with Thorpe just adding a few lines at the beginning of each verse, but on hearing this track I realise that this is the best song so far, and that Hayden’s falsetto was starting to grate. ‘When I’m Sleepy’ works better as it is a slower track, and the band can add some nice instrumental touches, while ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues’ ups the tempo for a funky diversion swathed in shimmering guitar. The title track is split into two halves, with the first part employing Fleming’s voice over some staccato rhythms and pounding drums, while the second part is a shorter, faster version of the first. ‘This Is Our Lot’ brings to mind the guitar sounds of Johnny Marr and John Squire, and with Thorpe toning down the vocal histrionics it develops into one of the best tracks on here. ‘Underbelly’ strips everything back to leave just Thorpe and a piano, which then jumps straight into ‘Empty Nest’ to round off the album with another pleasant little indie rocker. A lot of the reviews that I have read have praised the band for keeping their eccentricities and quirks on this album, but for me this is the trouble with it – it is just too quirky and eccentric, and Thorpe’s vocals are certainly an acquired taste which I didn’t manage to embrace like most other people. There are some good songs on here, but you have to wade through the filler to hear them, and despite the almost unanimous rave reviews of ‘Two Dancers’ I have to dissent and say that I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I had hoped that I would, and I fear that the band has been hyped to a point where they can never live up to the expectation generated by the press.
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