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Last year, I wrote a good deal about and told anyone who would listen about Wild Beast’s 2008 record, Limbo, Panto. To my ears, it was the most confident, unique, and all around best debut of the year, if not the hands-down choice for the finest release of 2008. Limbo, Panto was a healthy, open-palmed smack to the face (or the ears, as it were), brimming with vitality, intelligence, unexpected melody, and one of the most unique voices in music today. Hayden Thorpe’s vocals are an incredible lure–or, perhaps, a dealbreaker for more faint of heart–, his melismatic growls evoking a Vaudevillian take on Postcard-era Orange Juice, when Edwyn Collins belted out their unlikely post-punk gems with panache. The lazy (or simply misled) out there will point to Morrissey in them thar melodies, but Thorpe is far too theatrical for that; even Moz wouldn’t attempt the bronchial acrobatics on display here.
Needless to say, I was excited to learn that the band’s sophomore follow-up, Two Dancers, will be released on September 9th by the folks at Domino Records. “All the King’s Men” is the first track the band is sharing from the new LP, and it is brimming with the same charm that made their first record such a joy, with an added primal, sexually-charged twist.
Starting off with rippling guitars, a loose, tribal drum beat, and some guttural vocal harmonies, “All the King’s Men” sounds at first like something off the soundtrack of Spike Jonze’s cinematic reinvention of Where the Wild Things Are. When Thorpe’s falsetto explodes forth, however, one knows this is vintage Wild Beasts. It is weird and beautiful, like the rare orange sunset that overtakes New York City–a wondrous thing, if difficult to wrap your mind around.
“All the King’s Men” makes it clear–again–that Wild Beasts are leagues ahead of most bands making music today, embracing their eccentricities and marrying them to pop conventions. Here’s hoping that Two Dancers finds them some new fans here in the States and elsewhere.