Tour support Blue Roses plays gentle ethereal folk and you’d guess she’d probably benefit more from being championed on, say, Kanye West’s blog than on here, and will then forgive the fact that I was at the back and I wasn’t really listening.
With the excess trimmed from the shrill and bombast of 2008’s brilliant Limbo, Panto to the comparatively subdued Silk Cut Ultra of Wild Beasts‘ second album, Two Dancers back in August. Radio play, fawning reviews internationally, and summer festival triumphs in the interval between the band’s last visit to this city have resulted in the fabled leap from playing to roughly-about-100 people on the other side of the wharf to playing to at-least-about-150 in the Thekla tonight.
The Wild Beasts formula loosely revolves around dual frontmen Tom Fleming (the crooner [something about liquorice here]) and Hayden Thorpe (Scooby Doo [something unfair about testicles here]) who trade lyrics that scan like an Oscar Wilde Eastenders Xmas Special.
There is no stage chatter, a creepy monologue intro tape starts proceedings, the lights are dim excepting some twinkles behind the band. It all fits perfectly.
Partly apeing the literate blowzy British Pop of Orange Juice, The Associates and The Smiths, albeit with something DARKER and weighty at it’s core. Otherworldy but not dated, it certainly doesn’t sound like 2009. There is something defiantly and intricately English about their sound, but it seems a world away from yer skinny-jeaned skiffle bands.
Four songs make the cut from their first effort, heart crushing doomed lament His Grinning Skull being the most worthy of a mention and signifyer of why this band merit a Saturday night return trip to the West Country. The fact that these pass without much fuss shows the measure of the quality of the newer material. Casual domestic violence toetapper (and current single) All The King’s Men in particular raising the loudest response.
It’s to their credit that while corners have been smoothed, there is something still undeniably beautiful, still bloody weird about this band – and they are all the better for it.
[Wild Beasts are a late announcement for Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival and play The Gate on 22.10.09]