Sunday, 9 March 2014

Album Review - Present Tense




Present Tense
by Wild Beasts
(out now!)




In the beginning Wild Beasts crafted Limbo Panto, which carried a unique musical signature where they could be confused with no other, though they could, occasionally, in my humble opinion, lose it in moments in the desire to push too far. Two Dancers saw them hone this formula to create one of the most perfect alternative rock albums my ears have ever been treated with. Smother took them to the darkest depths where they built their sounds around some of the most wrenching themes and brooding atmospheres which laid the foundations for the construction of Present Tense.


Wild Beasts haven't been shy about expressing their desires to appeal to a broader audience by making music that is more easily accessible but has that decision led them to dumb down what has previously been some of the most mentally and aurally stimulating music to bounce around in the confines of my skull? As soon as Present Tense was announced for pre-order I jumped on the bandwagon with a sack of cash and staked my claim. I ordered the vinyl and digital download purely for the possibility of receiving one of the first 100 copies which, were to be personally signed by each of the band. Would I get it? YES GIRL!!! When it arrived a few days ago I let out a squeal and a giggle of excitement as I opened my package. It's the small things you know? That's almost like my own personal interaction with them.


The opening track ‘Wanderlust’, also the first single released, is a good indication for the direction they've taken on Present Tense; lush, precociously poetic and drowning in rumbling, chiming and choppy synth. Actually the main thing that has changed for the boys is the extra digital experimentation and their own take on some sounds that might be familiar to aficionados of classic 80s synth pop like The Thompson Twins or Bronski Beat. Present Tense, like the albums before it, is a progression or evolution rather than a reinvention. To me this is the perfect approach as it allows their fans to progress with them instead of being alienated and needing to re-learn a new musical signature. Overall it's certainly a more familiar affair than a new adventure. What Wild Beasts always do well and Present Tense is no exception, are achingly beautiful lyrical stories that never quite give everything away, always alluding to what is going on. With implied sexuality, luring darkness and mischievously tinged optimism they completely draw me into a world I can adapt to my own experiences. With possibly the most divinely emotive voices of alternative music today, I am probed, opened completely and left raw, bleeding for the vultures to pick at.




I'm not sure I could pick a fave track yet however some tracks immediately burn bright (‘Wanderlust’, ‘Mecca’, ‘Sweet Spot’, ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’, ‘Past Perfect’) while others smoulder, slowly smoking one out of their comfort zone and into a blubbering mess (‘Nature Boy’, ‘Daughters’, ‘A Dogs Life’) but there are no dogs and I hesitate to label any of them fillers. In its entirety Present Tense has more in common with Smother than either of their previous albums, though with a new tone and feel that will certainly (hopefully, they deserve to be embraced in their full glory) appeal to the broader audience these practitioners of perfect left of centre pop are aiming for. 


Did I mention they signed my vinyl? I can feel a fangirl squeal coming on...
Nayt Housman gives Present Tense five Wild Beasts heads out of five...

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