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Wild Beasts - Present Tense

 
03 April, 2014
 
 
 

By Eoin Hanlon

 

 

Wild Beasts' return to the scene was initially met with caution on my behalf, considering the sound explored in the first single, Wanderlust, which is unlike anything seen on their previous albums. However, any cautionary thoughts I had have vanished, Present Tense is a triumphant return. The quartet that makes up the band: Hayden Thorpe (vocals, guitar, keys), Ben Little (guitar, keys), Tom Fleming (vocals, bass) and Chris Talbot (drums), have released an album of intellect, poise, familiarity and one which has moments that are genuinely profound.

 

Present Tense, the bands fourth LP, is their connection to the modern world. A world filled with confusion and beauty, internal conflicts of anxiety and desire, mundane moments of the everyday revealing the magnificence of life. Present Tense holds up an aural mirror, which reflects to the listener the consensus of our modern times. There is no doubt this album is political, however it is refreshing because it is in its attitude as opposed to overt political content; similar to or even a blend between Pulp's Different Class and Radiohead's OK Computer.

 

The dualistic themes and contradictive nature of Present Tense is well executed, and is most clearly shown with the two leading vocalists of the band. The contrast is more noticeable between tracks as opposed to within them. The difference between the light-footed and bittersweet Sweet Spotin contrast to the sinister Daughters is most clearly shown through Thorpe's falsetto and Fleming's baritone, which have been used to their full effect to create an album of perspectives. Whether they're about fleeting moments of nostalgia or the shortcomings of preserving future generations.

 

Despite the dialogue that is explored throughout Present Tense, the song A Simple Beautiful Truth reveals perhaps the central theme of the album: that besides the fears that we may have as members of modern society, that "There's beauty out there/You just gotta know where/It's real." Although this is only one example, the lyrics throughout Present Tense are stripped bare to minimal and poignant effect, but Wild Beasts have the ability to make their lyrics sound like they are drowning in meaning.

 

What is most noticeably different about Present Tense in comparison to the bands previous work is the electronic prominence dictating the tone of the album. Although this may be disheartening for some fans, I would argue that it makes Wild Beasts a force to be reckoned with. There is a clear intention in the changed style. Present Tense plays into the shininess of modernism and the commercialism of the arts. However, in tone and content it reveals itself as an inversion of mainstream pop.

 

Conceptually, Wild Beasts' Present Tense is an album that should fail because of how over-ambitious they have been, contrary to that, it succeeds and excels expectations because it is an album of contradictions. Present Tense is devastatingly human, and the bands musicianship quite clearly knows no boundaries. This has the potential to be nominated for 2014's Mercury Prize award and will be considered one of the best albums to be released this year.

 


 

 

QUICK ALBUM FACTS

 

 

Primary Genre: Indie Rock

 

Secondary Genre: Experimental Pop, Art Punk

 

Release Date: February 24th, 2014

 

Label:  Domino Records

 

Like this and you'll probably also like: Everything Everything, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Atoms for Peace

 

Album Highlights: Sweet Spot, Nature Boy, Mecca, Daughters, A Simple Beautiful Truth

 

 


 

 

Wild Beasts - Sweet Spot

 


 

 

Wild Beasts - Wanderlust

 


 

 

Wild Beasts - Mecca

 

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