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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 214 - 02/15/14

Wild Beasts
Domoni Records

Seeing as Boards of Canada's "Reach For The Dead" is ace and Tomorrow's Harvest is not, Mogwai's "Remurdered" is ace and Rave Tapes is not, what does it mean for the forthcoming fourth Wild Beasts album Present Tense that "Wanderlust" is pretty damn good? Here's the digi-goods.

I couldn't care less about the video, apart from the ending where all the characters multiply and overlap, but the song has been growing on me one hell of a lot in the past couple of weeks. Since falling in love with Smother (Domino Records 2011) I've become similarly besotted with Two Dancers (Domino 2009) and Limbo, Panto (Domino 2008). Going backwards in their discography takes one further away from the sound of "Wanderlust". Evolution is fine, but wouldn't be worthwhile if the Beasts were losing what's made their music so essential with each release. Limbo, Panto was fruity and feral; Smother was spacious and elegant; Two Dancers, fittingly, saw a dalliance with both Beastly directions. "Wanderlust" is something else again.

Part of the song's appeal pivots on the way in which the basic rhythm seems to see-saw between kick-kick-snare and snare-kick-kick. The rhythm doesn't change, but the way the accent of the drums plays a trick on my mind is hypnotic. It's the difference between a rock drummer thumping out a beat and a horse cantering. It's refreshing to hear Chris Talbot abandon his usual modus operandum of making every drumbeat fidgety with tikkity-tokkety rototoms and cowbells and the like, and it suits the song's general sense of momentum, moving forward without thinking too much while still possessing a human feel.

It was only after a dozen or so listens I registered there are no guitars discernible in the mix, which is usually such a pleasing feature of WB's sound. Replacing guitars with synths would, on the surface, seem like a trendy move, but the band have never come across as being fussed by such considerations, which is part of their appeal. The instrumentation just serves the song's sleek form, spiralling around and around on itself, but never really going back over the same ground.

The song appealed a lot more after I learned that it's Perfect Tense's opening track. Dunno why - just feels right. I hope the tracks that follow are as beguiling.

Copyright © 2014 Tim Clarke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Wild Beasts articles/reviews: Present Tense, Smother.

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